To support early childhood development in Rwanda, the Ikea Foundation has awarded Unicef a new grant of over €3.5 million to continue its work with the government and civil society organisations to transform the way families and communities nurture their children.
Despite progress in primary education, access to pre-primary school and early childhood development (ECD) services is still low. According to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2014-2015, only 13% of children between 3 and 6 years attend an organised early childhood education programme.
In response, the government has revised the national ECD policy, fostering a coordinated and integrated approach. ECD has been prioritised in development plans like the National Strategy for Transformation, and Unicef Rwanda continues to be the main partner for developing and implementing ECD programmes.
“The government of Rwanda has put words into action through investment in concrete ECD programmes, such as centre- and home-based child care, home visits, and early literacy,” said Ted Maly, Unicef representative to Rwanda. “Evidence shows that 80% of a child’s brain develops between 0 to 3 years of age. Children need adequate care and stimulation in the early years so they don’t lose their development potential later in life.”
This grant from the Ikea Foundation will allow significant expansion of early childhood initiatives. In addition to expanding access to pre-primary education, programmes will include parenting sessions for caregivers, and improved nutrition and child protection services, allowing over 40,000 Rwandan children to have happier, healthier childhoods.
“The Ikea Foundation believes all children have the right to a healthy start in life and a quality education, which starts with developing well in their early years. That’s why we are supporting this project,” said Vivek Singh, programme manager for the Ikea Foundation.
The Ikea Foundation (Stichting Ikea Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of Ingka Foundation, the owner of the Ikea Group of companies. Its aim is to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change.