The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare said that there is a misconception on education for different age groups of children saying that a child in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) program is from age 0-4 years.
Martha Mbombo from MGECW said that a child aged from 0-2 years you can not be educated because they are too small and in the care of the parents saying that the ministry therefore educate the parent on ways to stimulate the child before birth and after birth to age 2. “Neither can you teach a child over 2 nor over 4 years,” she said.
She added the mind of a child is being exposed to different learning tools and objects through play. “The focus is to allowing the child to learn to do things through play being it with different colors; objects such as toys, blocks, etc.” she noted.
Mbombo said that teaching starts at Pre-Primary level which is under the Ministry of Education Arts and Culture (MEAC). “We are aware that not all schools have Pre-Primary classes because the MEAC is still expanding these services gradually,” she added.
Mbombo advised that at these age should not be taught as these would damage their learning ability because their brains get exposed to things above their thinking and physical capacity.
“This is what is done at Crèche, Kindergarten, ECD center level under our Ministry,” she said.
She said that Children aged 5 and above are the ones to be taught name writing, counting, spelling, numbers etc, starting with basics and advance with the child’s age to more complex issues.
Since Namibia as a country has adopted free economy policy, there are private Kindergartens and will continue operating as private just like private schools and private businesses and they are allowed to operate, Mbombo said.
She however added that even though they get support, they will not fall in the category of community kindergartens that came in existence through efforts of the Ministry and communities, and registered as community kindergartens which belong to the community and not to individuals.
To release the burden of payment for Kindergartens, the MGECW took over the payment of the educators by providing them with a monthly allowance.
Martha Mbombo from MGECW said that the monthly allowance is made to community based Early Childhood Development centers. “ECD services are free in some kindergartens and not in others. Payment vary from N$20 –N800 or more. A majority of kindergartens in this country are community owned,” Mbombo said.
However, she added that the Ministry cannot afford to completely take over all costs because apart from the subsidy to the Educator the Ministry does occupies itself with other projects in ECD.
“It provides substantial support to ECD centers in terms of; educational materials, equipment, and furniture; it provide free 7 weeks training to Educators; free guidance on how to manage centers,” she said
Mbombo acknowledged that some centers and Educators do not benefit from these services, at times due to the reason that the once managing the center is not registered with the Ministry.
“With the introduction of Standards by the ministry some do not want to be known to be in existence, even though the ministry does conduct mobilization meetings to discuss Community Development and ECD issues or it is broadcast on different radio services,” she added.
There is also a curriculum for Educators developed by NIED in 2008 and for children 3-4 years old developed in 2013.
The ministry is anticipating to enforce the newly developed ECD National Standards for ECD facilities. The Child Protection Bill that is approved by the Ministry will follow what is stipulated in the Act especially with regard to registration of kindergartens to ensure they adhere to set standards. The ministry also want to train all untrained Educators to Construct and renovate community kindergartens Expand access of ECD services to poor communities and develop area based intervention ECD programs.