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Early Childhood Development, the way forward to addressing the long-term consequences of COVID-19 on Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative impacts among others on the education sector in Pacific Island countries.

At the opening of the three days Pacific Early Childhood Development (ECD) Forum currently underway in Nadi, Fiji, Director of Research, Economic Policy Research Institute Dr Michael Samson told leaders on the best ways to address the long term consequences of COVID through ECD.

Dr Samson said COVID has presented unprecedent shock to the health and education sectors among others. This has affected the effectiveness of Early Childhood investments.

He said COVID has brought hunger in many of Pacific Island countries and stretched the burden of care as parents remained home and took care of children.

He said despite COVID is such a threat, sustaining investments on ECD is the best way not only to tackle the immediate consequences but at the core to build the kind of resilience and people, and their families that enable them to struggle off these kinds of shocks and to prosper.

Director of Research, Economic Policy Research Institute Dr. Michael Samson

“If COVID is such a human capital shock, we measure the learning loss in countries in terms of months and years. In this way, it is an unprecedented shock that we have never seen in our lifetimes a shock that has had such a negative impact on human capital but we know that the best way to multiple the returns to education investments is to invest early.”

“ECD is the best way to prevent the long-term consequences of COVID from creating devastating human capital shock,” Dr Samson said.

He also emphasized that ECD is the best investment governments can make in their nations’ future prosperity.

He said the purpose of ECD is to deliver children’s rights.

“The purpose of ECD is to deliver children’s rights and making sure that every child have a happy childhood,” Dr Samson said.

He added today economic development depends on the education industries and this is why Early Childhood investments are the best ways to ensure nations achieve prosperity.

In his presentation during a panel discussion on ‘Creating a Resilient Blue Pacific for All Children,’ Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Henry Puna said Pacific Island leaders need to secure the future of the future generations at the regional, through creating a thriving society that is built on cultures and tradition and strong leadership.

Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Henry Puna

He concluded his presentation with a quote “it is easier to raise young strong children than to repair broke adults’’.

The governments and representatives from 15 Pacific Island countries are in Nadi, Fiji next week for the Pacific Early Childhood Development (ECD) Forum.

The theme for this year’s forum is ‘Building a Resilient Pacific Through Early Childhood Development’.

It was hosted by UNICEF with the support of the New Zealand government.

The forum will conclude this Friday.

ENDS//

By Fredrick Kusu

Nadi, Fiji