The Early Childhood Development (ECD) National Policy was launched yesterday by Prime Minister (PM), Ishmael Kalsakau, during the Children’s Day celebration at Saralana Park.

This policy, approved by the Council of Ministers (COM) in May earlier this year, was designed to ensure that all children have access to health, nutrition, and education, and is “set to strengthen the foundation of Vanuatu’s future, ensuring a harmonious and prosperous society for generations to come”, as stated by the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET).

According to a statement released by the MoET last week, the ECD national policy has been developed and supported collaboratively by the MoET, Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS), UNICEF, and other esteemed partners.

In his speech, the PM stressed that childhood development is an important development period from when a baby forms until he/she reaches 8 years old.

“This new policy recognises that when a baby forms in his/her mother’s womb, the baby has the intellect that requires for the right words be spoken to him/her,” he said.

“They should never be placed in front of things that would affect their growth.”

The head of the Vanuatu government relayed that this is the first time in the history of Vanuatu after the political independence, for this policy to be approved and implemented in the country.

“This concludes the countless years spent by stakeholders and officials to ensure that all the children have a good start to attain a good future through this policy,” he added.

According to the PM, the main driving force behind this policy is the foundation of human capital.

“Research studies proves that quality opportunity of a child to learn in its early years makes a true and strong difference in his/ her life.

“The Vanuatu government is fully committed to this national policy, and will give every support to help improve access for every child around Vanuatu to have quality education and care, and will give special attention to children with special needs, and those who developed mental delays,” he further stated.

He said this policy provides chance for Government Ministries, Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including the private sector, to work together in taking care in the upbringing of a child in Vanuatu.

He explained that the policy also includes a parent’s role as the primary care giver on how to care and provide support for a child in ensuring they are healthy, have access to cultural protection, and ensure that there is no violence or abuse in their lives.

“I strongly believe that the implementation of this ECD national policy will greatly contribute to the achievement of our National Sustainable Development Plan,” the PM said.

“It will greatly improve the lives of the majority of our children today and in the future.

“It is also a big chapter in terms of human capital development, after the many challenges we faced.”