Thursday, 21 July 2016

Transforming the lives of Indonesian children with Early Childhood Education

Students at KM 0 Early Childhood Care and Education Centre (ECCE) are facilitated by specially-trained teachers. (©UNICEF Indonesia/2016/Kinanti Pinta Karana)

A rare sound of children’s laughter can be heard at Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture where normally Government staff and their partners focus on developing and implementing education policies. A little girl carrying a doctor’s kit declares that she wants to be a pilot. “I also want to be a doctor, and a teacher,” she proudly tells the high-level delegation of officials from the Governments of Indonesia and New Zealand.

Around 30 children had gathered for the launch of a new Early Childhood Care and Education Programme (ECCE) on the morning of July 18, 2016, jointly run by the Government of Indonesia and UNICEF, with support from the New Zealand Government through a US$2.8 million contribution over a period of four years.

Designed to develop models for quality assurance of community-based ECCE, the programme will reach 7,400 children aged 3-6 years in 100 community-based early childhood centres in Kupang District, in East Nusa Tenggara during the pilot phase. The children will benefit from literacy programmes, play activities and a supportive learning environment. Their parents will be able to access parenting programmes about child care, nutrition and how to help their children get ahead in their learning at home. All in all, it will help the children to be better prepared for primary school - with the help of 200 specially trained facilitators. Once replicated at national level, the quality assurance mechanism will benefit 16 million 3-6 year olds every single year.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Sanitation as a matter of religious importance

By Aidan Cronin, Chief WASH, UNICEF Indonesia

It was a rare sight: members of the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars (in Indonesian known as Majelis Ulama Indonesia) in their distinctive peci hats sat alongside Government health officials from 13 provinces of Indonesia to discuss an unconventional topic: toilets.

Organised by the Minister of Health, the meeting unveiled an innovative approach to improve sanitation in Indonesia – a Fatwa, or Islamic decree by the Council which stresses the importance of good sanitation facilities and hygiene practices. The decree also allows the use of the Council’s charity funds (Zakat) to provide financial support to the poorest and most vulnerable families for better latrines.

Indonesia has a huge problem with open defecation, where people do not defecate in a toilet but in the open, on the beach, into river and so on. A WHO/UNICEF Report (2015) estimates that over 51 million people do not use latrines in the country – the second highest number in the world. However, open defecation is practised mostly by the poorest populations and they bear the heaviest burden. In particular, children - already vulnerable and marginalized - pay the highest price in terms of their survival and development.