Research has shown that what transpires in a child’s early childhood has the possibility of influencing that child for the rest of his or her life. As a result, UNICEF is working to ensure that children receive a good start in life. In this regard, UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Human Development is holding a workshop to strengthen the data management systems as it relates to early childhood development. Love News spoke with Dr. Neulin Villanueva, the Deputy Chief Education Officer at the Ministry of Education who said that the purpose is to allow the data to function in a more coherent way.
Dr. Neulin Villanueva – Deputy Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education: The issue is we have various systems so we have the Belize Health Information System that will track children from birth and whatever health issues they have and then we have what we call the Open ENIS Education Management Information System which tracks students from they enter preschool all the way up to tertiary education and there is also the fun care system from Human Development that keeps information on any assistance a child might have; any social assistance and so there are pieces of information in various ministries and for us to really monitor early childhood development in a more holistic way we have to find a way for these systems to communicate and for us to be able to report on the different indicators that we have identified that are key to early childhood development.
UNICEF representative, James Shoobridge said that worldwide goals are being developed as it relates to early childhood development.
James Shoobridge – UNICEF: The initiative that’s taking place globally is to look at goals and objectives that all countries can aspire to and sustainable development goals that targets and indicators have been developed by all countries coming together and agreeing that these are objectives that we want to achieve so there are standards by which countries can monitor and report on progress towards attaining early childhood development goals in Education and Health and child protection and in other areas so the categories refer to the way we are looking at measuring progress towards those goals whether it is difficult to measure, whether it is easy to measure or wether it lies in between and the other way to define those measurements is by saying does it directly affect the child? Is it something that has to be done immediately with the child?, Is it something that we are measuring that has to do with an immediate caregiver to the child or is it something that we are measuring in a group that is associated with the child. For example if we are measuring education attainment of the child that is a direct measure on the child. If we are measuring what the poverty of the household is. What the income of the household is and whether they have sufficient resources. That’s an indirect measurement of the child but it has to do with the environment in which the child lives and so has influence on the world bank.
Shoobridge said that with the data functioning in a more coherent way, each child will receive the necessary services to be able to fully develop.