Experts agree that the first few years of a child’s life are critical to ensure acquisition of the basic skills that are needed to succeed in school and in later life.
Data from UNESCO shows that the period from birth to eight years old is one of remarkable brain development for children and represents a crucial window of opportunity for education. When children are healthy, safe and learning well in their early years, they are better able to reach their full developmental potential as adults and participate effectively in economic, social, and civic life.
Save the Children, which works to improve the lives of deprived children worldwide, supports Early Childhood Development school readiness programmes in a number of countries. These interventions, which engage not only young children, but also their parents, caregivers, and communities, make certain that children survive and thrive, that they are physically and emotionally healthy and intellectually curious, and that they are prepared for future school and life success.
Nurturing children in Indonesia
Candriam is partnering with Save the Children on an Indonesian-based programme that will support access to early learning and development from a very young age. As an organization, Candriam believes deeply that helping children to thrive is essential and that it is critical to invest in companies that support children’s development.
Save the Children has worked in Indonesia for more than three decades. Throughout 2022, Save the Children Indonesia worked in 19 provinces through more than 30 community development, humanitarian, campaigning and advocacy programmes designed to support children and their families and wider communities, covering Health & Nutrition, Education, Child Protection, Child Poverty, Humanitarian Response & Resilience, and Governance of Children.
Save the Children has set up a number of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, providing children with a safe place where they can learn and play. In Early Childhood Care and Development Centers, children up until the age of 8 are supported in their development and given the tools for a lifelong learning. By enhancing their social, emotional and cognitive skills, they are prepared for transitioning into primary school. From basic activities such as how to hold a pen properly, to reading exercises and joint creative activations, children are supported in the development of crucial learning skills, preparing them for their education journey.
Concurrently, education is also provided to parents so they can become more active at home in supporting the development of their children.
However, some existing spaces suffer from aging infrastructures which are inadequate and unsafe for children. With the support of Candriam, the spaces at four Early Development Centers in the West and Sumba district in the country, can be upgraded and refurbished and therefore able to safely accommodate more children, creating a better learning environment.
In Indonesia, access to quality education and safe learning environments remains a challenge. Especially in the poorest regions of the country, many children from deprived communities struggle – due to insufficient infrastructure but also the lack of support in the first years of their lives, as the parents are usually occupied with their daily work to meet the basic needs of the family. When transitioning to primary school, these vulnerable children often find it difficult to learn, leading to, in some cases, dropping out of education altogether, thereby creating a generational cycle of poverty.
While international aid agencies contribute to the success of early learning programmes, partnering with the private sector is increasingly important to expand initiatives that have a long-term, positive social impact and help unlock the potential of millions of children worldwide.