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Swazi Political Leadership and the IBE commit to ensure Holistic Early Childhood Care and Education in the Kingdom

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The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland, his Excellency Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, held a ministerial meeting with the Director of the International Bureau of Education (IBE), Dr. Mmantsetsa Marope, with the purpose of reaffirming the commitment of the Government of Swaziland and the UNESCO-IBE to ensure holistic Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in the Kingdom. The meeting saw the participation of the highest political leadership of Swaziland, namely: Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture Minister of Education & Training, Minister of Economic Planning & Development, Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Tinkhundla and Administration, and Minister of Justice.
 
The ministerial meeting officially opened the Kingdom of Swaziland UNESCO-IBE national workshop on Building Early Childhood Care and Education Systems (ECCE): A priority for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030, gathering the main decision makers, experts, and practitioners working on ECCE in the Kingdom, assisted by the IBE technical team, with the objective of moving the ECCE agenda forward.    
 
The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland highlighted the prominent role of ECCE in establishing solid foundations for children and societal development. Expanding access to ECCE will help to deliver quality education in Swaziland, and meet the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Prime Minister also outlined a number of challenges that the Kingdom is facing, which prevent quality, equitable, and sustainable ECCE services to its children, and above all, the lack of coordination among different actors’ delivery of ECCE services. In this respect, the Prime Minister praised the initiative of the IBE and the role of Dr. Marope in assisting the Kingdom in its effort to implement the Moscow Framework of Action and Cooperation, which represents the foundation for an efficient and resilient ECCE system.
 
The Director of the IBE outlined the importance for Swaziland to nurture its human resources to sustain social and economic growth, and the geopolitical role of the country in the region. ECCE, by facilitating the education of children during brain development, represents a key intervention to enhance the quality of the country's human resources. ECCE increases productivity of labour forces with positive trade-offs for the economy. It is a cost-benefit policy with high economic and social returns. According to the Moscow Framework of Action and Cooperation, ECCE starts when a potential parent plans to have a child, and therefore pertains to programmes targeting pre-natal, natal, and the post-natal period, along with services for children aged 0-3, aged 3-6, and primary education first grades. ECCE is multi-sectoral, but this diversity poses a challenge. Services are fragmented across sectors, but they must nevertheless act with the common purpose of promoting the holistic development of the child. Underinvesting in ECCE means jeopardizing the present and future development of Swaziland. As technological innovation is changing the economic floor very fast, investment in ECCE is a matter of urgency.
 
The Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland, and the Director of the IBE agreed on the way forward to advance the ECCE agenda in the country. A pledge has been made to establish an institutional arrangement to coordinate and integrate ECCE policies programmes and services, as the first step to build an efficient and resilient ECCE system that promotes the holistic development of all Swaziland's children.