DILI, 30 june 2022 (TATOLI) – The President of the Republic, Jose Ramos Horta, and UNICEF’s Country Representative to Timor-Leste, Bilal Auran Zeb Durrani discussed evidence-based strategies for Early Childhood Development (ECD).
“We are invited by President Horta to discuss evidence-based strategies to implement his vision of having no child die at birth, every child is healthy, well-nourished, learning, and safe. Or we can call it strategy for the program on Early Childhood Development,” Durrani made the comments after having a fruitful discussion with the Head of State at the Presidential Palace.
“UNICEF had been supporting Timorese children in different areas, including mother and child health, nutrition, social policy, and protection,” Durrani explained.
During the meeting, President Horta shared with UNICEF his 1000 days program to launch the Early Childhood Development Steering Committee which will be chaired by the Head of State himself. It will involve the representative from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Inclusion, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of State Administration, etc.
Durrani said UNICEF was honored to support President’s vision, particularly for his two top presidential priorities – Reducing malnutrition, especially stunting in his first 1000 days in office, and also providing access to preschool for every child between 3 to 5 years old in the country.
To concretize his vision, President Horta will launch an Integrated Childhood Development Center (ICDC) at the Presidential Palace which will provide five services: First, establishing preschool education for children between the ages of 3 to 5 together with the Ministry of Education. Second, establishing the mother support group to provide nutrition services, screening for acute malnutrition, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Counseling, demonstration, and stimulation for ECD in partnership with the Ministry of Health. Third, offering services on early identification and interventions for children with disability in the preschool. Fourth, focusing on positive parenting and community-based mental health and psychosocial support. And the last service will be focused on birth registration and post for parents to register their children and get birth certificates in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice.
Durrani reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to be collaborating closely with the President’s Office to make sure the rights of the children are appropriately met in Timor-Leste.
Before concluding the meeting, President Horta kindly thanked UNICEF for its services to the children of Timor-Leste since the restoration of the independence.
The results from Timor-Leste Food and Nutrition Survey 2020 show that 47% of Timorese children are stunted and chronically malnourished.
Meanwhile, 50% of the Timorese children under the age of 7 live below the poverty line.
Currently, 75% of Timorese children do not attend preschool, while, 56% of children under five years of age are not on track in health, learning, and psychosocial wellbeing.
Journalist: Filomeno Martins
Editor: Nelia Borges.