At the conference. (Source: giaoducthoidai.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – A conference on integrated early childhood development (IECD) was held in Hanoi on March 6, aiming to increase National Assembly deputies’ awareness of the importance of IECD and to encourage them to promote IECD in the work of elected bodies.

Delegates at the event noted that IECD is the shared responsibility of parents, caregivers, families and service providers from various sectors of health, nutrition, education, child protection and water, environmental sanitation and hygiene.

International research shows that cognitive ability is markedly affected by childhood circumstances. Children who experienced good nutrition, stimulation and supportive and secure environments are most likely to reach their full potential.

However, in Vietnam, major gaps remain in supporting the cognitive and emotional development of children, especially for those under 8 years of age, they said.

Many said the importance of investing in early childhood development has been increasingly recognised by Vietnam, with the issuance of a Party resolution on enhancing the protection, care and health for people in 2017, along with the approval of the Law on Children in 2016.

They also cited the Law on Health Insurance, the Education Law and the Labour Code with contents relating to heath care for children, early childhood education and maternity leave for women.

Based on such legal documents, the Vietnamese Government is in the process of finalising a national integrated early childhood development scheme (national IECD scheme) for 2018-2025.

The programme will be led by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), the leading agency for children’s issues, in coordination with other ministries and agencies.

It aims to ensure all-round development of children aged from 0-8 and their equal access to services, thus contributing to national human resources development, said Vu Thi Kim Hoa, deputy head of the Child Department under the MoLISA.

Ngo Thi Minh, Vice Chairwomen of the National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children, underlined the importance of a national IECD programme.

Effective implementation of the IECD programme will require strong engagement of elected officials in their oversight function, ensuring the programme is fully financed, well-coordinated and scaled at national level, she said.

Yoshimi Nishino, Acting Deputy Representative of UNICEF Vietnam, said the National Assembly has a vital role in promoting the nationwide implementation of IECD, bringing together different agencies that play a critical role in the life of a child.

“A failure to have strong commitment to invest in and implement IECD would come at a great cost with poor learning, slow physical growth, lower wages, higher unemployment and increased dependence on public assistance that weighs down economic and social progress for everyone,” he said. -VNA