Rwanda has started a process of adopting new Early Learning & Development Standards (ELDS) and National Parenting Guides (NPGs) which will enable parents and caregivers to monitor children’s growth, education and health.
The new standards and guides based on the Rwandan cultural practices but also adapted to the Cambridge Education systems were presented during a validation conference and celebrations to mark the Universal Child Day (UCD) held November 20, 2023.
Rwanda’s ELDS are a critical resource, designed to support parents, caregivers, teachers, leaders, and decision makers to understand how young children develop and learn
The new ELDS will tackle six development areas to provide a detailed and detailed understanding of a child’s growth. These will be: the cultural and moral, health and physical, approaches to learning, social and emotional, cognitive and academic knowledge, language and early literacy.
To monitor the above, these will have a development and red flag checklist indicators to help caregivers to understand whether children (0-3 years) are developmentally on track, and need specialist attention for a potential disability (red flags)- say inability to speak or walk.
The caregiver will also have care cards where they can record the indicators and when the red flags are noticed, the caregivers will be able to communicate the cases to parents or refer the cases to specialists or to a medical center for follow-up.
“Ideally in future, the data collected by health workers on these checklists should be shared with relevant ministries to support the government’s planning of programmes and services,” said Kate Thomas the Cambridge Education Lead Expert.
Through a clear understanding of optimal child development, as articulated in the ELDS, all providers of early childhood care and education, from parents to policy makers, can ensure children receive the developmentally appropriate support they need to reach their full potential.
“These standards will build on what we already have in place but improve the way we monitor child growth and enable the country to raise upright children in the future,” said Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion.
The NPGs also developed by Rwandans child experts, alongside the Cambridge Education teams, operationalise the National Parenting Curriculum (NPC), providing detailed guidance to service providers on how to build parenting skills effectively.
These skills are in eight curriculums which will help both parents and caregivers to: pass on positive discipline, care for children with developmental delays and disabilities, offer play and creation of stimulating home environments, prenatal, newborn, and post-natal care, infant feeding, first aid, hygiene management and care, male involvement in early childhood care, learning and school readiness
“The next step is dissemination. The tools will be just endorsed by relevant authorities,” said Pierre Nzeyimana, an Early Childhood Development Officer at UNICEF Rwanda.
According to the Gender and Family Promotion and its stakeholders, the developed standards and guides will be disseminated in the community through training caregivers, health workers and volunteers, in community gatherings, in schools and also among church settings.
For this to work out, Min Yuan, the Deputy UNICEF Rwanda Country Representative said that the agency sees a lot of interest in child development in Rwanda and thus focusing support on new models and innovative solutions will save time to reach more children and their rights.
Yuan stated that there is need to put in more efforts in areas of gender equality and inclusiveness for children with disabilities but also asked leaders to be role models in enabling child rights and care where she used the example of President Paul Kagame who spends time with his grandchildren and posts the images on social media- an act the Yuan said inspires many parents.
National Child Development Agency (NCDA) Deputy Director General, Gilbert Munyemana said that implementing these guides will come from the families especially if parents begin taking responsibility and require knowledge from the guides to learn each parenting step by step.