The statement from UNICEF state “This grant from the IKEA Foundation will allow significant expansion of early childhood initiatives in Rwanda. In addition to expanding access to pre-primary education, programmes will include parenting sessions for caregivers, and improved nutrition and child protection services, allowing over 40,000 Rwandan children to have happier, healthier childhoods.”
Rwanda has always demonstrated commitment to ensuring universal primary education but access to pre-primary school and early childhood development (ECD) services is still low.
According to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2014-2015, only 13% of children between 3-6 years attend an organised early childhood education programme.
However, Ted Maly, UNICEF Representative in Rwanda, lauds Rwanda’s recent prioritisation of early childhood development in development plans like the National Strategy for Transformation and UNICEF Rwanda continues to be the main partner for developing and implementing ECD programmes.
“The Government of Rwanda has put words into action through investment in concrete ECD programmes, such as centre- and home-based child care, home visit, and early literacy,” said Maly in a statement.
At the global level, an ECD target was added to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, marking the milestone as the first explicit inclusion of ECD in global development goals.
“Evidence shows that 80% of a child’s brain develops between 0 to 3 years of age. Children need adequate care and stimulation in the early years so they don’t lose their development potential later in life,” Maly added.
Vivek Singh, Programme Manager for the IKEA Foundation, said “The IKEA Foundation believes all children have the right to a healthy start in life and a quality education, which starts with developing well in their early years. That’s why we are supporting this project with a grant of over €3.5 million.”
The IKEA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. It works with strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life namely a place to call home, a healthy start in life, a quality education and a sustainable family income while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.