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The first nine years of a child's life are fundamentally essential for its development as ahuman being.
This period is so vital that the success of a nation depends on the success of a country's early childhood development (ECD) programme.
A proper system of ECD uses an integrated approach to a child's development, considers a child's health, nutrition, education, psychosocial factors as well as additional environmental factors in the family and community. It is estimated that between birth and six years, a child will acquire 50 percent to 80 percent of its intellectual capacity.
A vibrant and viable ECD philosophy, practice and culture requires a solid foundation for life-long learning, which thrives as a joint effort between parents, the community and the government.
One of these thriving ECD partnerships involving parents, the community and the government is the Absa and Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards. The awards were founded in 2003 and were operated on a provincial level for the first three years.
As part of the growth plan for the awards, Absa and the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development (Sacecd) approached Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation to create a wider, national awareness for the awards.
Three more nation-building partners - the Department of Education, Office of the Rights of the Child, the Presidency and SABC Education - have joined the campaign to raise public awareness, understanding and appreciation of early childhood development as a collective parenting tool.
Duncan Hindle, the deputy director-general of education, said: "It is a priority for the Department of Education to ensure that the fundamental issues of literacy, numeracy and socialisation are carried through in the ECD curriculum, and I would like to make the commitment that the department will support this initiative in a visible and practical way. It is in our interest to do so."