Children need to be provided, protected, and need to participate and given opportunities for development. The God given framework, “the family”, is the ideal environment for the child to grow in. The family is a secure place where children are nurtured and grow up in an enabling environment. The importance of the family is recognized even in the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child.
Traditional societies held the community and the family in high esteem. This value is however fast deteriorating in the race for material wealth. Due to poverty and increasing pressure on households, there has been a spurt in street children, working children, child sex workers and in some cases child soldiers, especially in the last decade. These are, however, the extreme cases. In everyday life children experience denial of opportunities for their growth and development. Physical abuse and neglect is taking a heavy toll of children, even their families where children are supposed to receive the best protection and care.
Some of the basic principles that need to be followed to give children their rightful place are:
· Children are individuals and members of their families and communities. They have rights and responsibilities, appropriate to their age and development.
· Recognizing everyone's rights is vital for a world full of freedom, justice and peace.
· Children need special care and protection.
· Families play a really important role in society. Children develop best if their families/care givers give them love, understanding, and happiness.
· Children need to grow "in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity”
· In all countries of the world, there are children living in exceptionally difficult conditions. These children need special help.
· Children's cultures and traditions should be protected.
· The world needs to work together to make life better for children, especially children in the world's poorest countries.
In this scenario, it is important to hear the voice of children and see their view of things. This is child participation, which is missing to a great extent in today’s society. The voice of children is stifled at home, at school, in religious institutions and in the community. An important reason for the forming of Children’s Groups (CGs) is for children to come together and voice their opinion leading to taking decisions on issues concerning them. CGs within the SHG Approach (SHGA) have added advantages.
The Children Groups are owned by the Children themselves.
As part of Kachere Development Programme's growth and expansion, in 2013 we moved to the next level of designing Sub-Committees at community level. Among the committees formed was the Sub-Committee on Education which led to the formation of the first 4 Early Childhood Development Education Learning Centers in Mphanga and Chipungo project sites.
The first success story of the Kachere ECDE project is at Kanjomba ECDE Center where 62 children and 2 teachers are doing extremely well under the local supervision of the ECDE Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and the Cluster Level Association (CLA). Other 3 ECDE centers are also running in the areas to lessen the burden of children attending schools in Government Primary schools which are 6 kilometres away from these centers.
Through these ECDE Centers, Kachere Development Programme is still seeking partnerships and financial support to strengthen these locally modelled institutions which will see more than 500 children benefit from the initiative and 10 ECDE volunteer teachers accessing formal training.
Currently the local teachers are supported by little resources raised from the contributions made by parents of the children as part of their commitment towards early childhood development.
Our plans are to establish fully fledged centers with adequate infrastructure which will promote long term development and integrate the school feeding programs within the two project sites and beyond. It is hoped that with the redesigning of the Strategic Plan for the period 2016-2020 our organisation will strengthen the Early Childhood Development programs so that our targets for reaching out to many vulnerable children and orphans is attained.