by Ronald Jubitana
The IDB, the Government of Suriname (GOS) and the Foundation for Human Development (FHD) signed a Technical Cooperation (TC) on 30 October 2013 to kick-start implementation of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Program in Suriname. Evidence has shown that if children are exposed early to comprehensive child development support services, learning outcomes are improved.
The TC will support the GOS in its effort to implement and refine its ECD policy. In Suriname, 38.5 percent of children aged 36-59 months are attending pre-school. The TC will benefit at least two thousand (2,000) infants and is scheduled to last eighteen (18) months.
Under the patronage of the First Lady of Suriname, Mrs. Ingrid Bouterse-Waldring, the TC comprises an “Early Head Start Initiative” component which seeks to raise public awareness on the need to register all children at birth, with special emphasis on female-headed households. In The Interior of Suriname there is a high incidence of female-headed households and non-registration of children.
The TC will also fund a pilot study in the Resort Kwarasan of the District Wanica. This will provide an initial data-gathering exercise and the opportunity for GOS to test policy assumptions and provide a controlled environment to assess the early impact of promoting comprehensive child development support services.
Recognizing the importance of having a comprehensive approach to ECD, a TC Project Steering Committee has been established which includes the: (i) Ministry of Health , which provides primary health care; monitors growth and development of children; provides parent and health education training; (ii) Ministry of Social Affairs , which operates daycare facilities for children; (iii) Ministry of Education and Community Development, which provides education guidelines for teacher training, and curriculum development; and (iv) NGOs, which offers parent education and other forms of support. The multi-sectoral composition of the Steering Committee provides a rich opportunity to deepen inter-agency relationships and foster partnerships with the private sector and NGOs.
Thrilled about the prospects of positive outcomes of the TC, the IDB and GOS have pledged their fullest commitment to working together on such an important initiative, recognizing that “investments in early childhood development in Suriname, will return investments in the long term,” as expressed by the First Lady.
Ronald Jubitana is an IT senior Associate in the Information Technology Department of the Inter-American Development Bank. His work at the IDB has focused besides Information Technology, on social-economic development for the indigenous and maroon communities in the interior of Suriname.