Evidence abounds that children start developing and learning before they are even born and learning continues throughout their lives.

It is also said that every child learns the most during the formative years, that is the first seven years of life. Therefore, it is very important that parents and the society as a whole work hand in hand to ensure that the right environment is created for children, who are the future leaders, to learn the right things and socialise the right way.

Also, when parents, especially mothers, get the right learning place for their children, particularly the pre-school ones, they can peacefully concentrate on their various trades and businesses, work and earn incomes to care for their families and pay their taxes for government to gather revenue for development.

Experts have said that children learn in the early years by using their senses: sight, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. At this age sensorimotor development is crucial. This means they learn about their surroundings using their senses and motor or muscle movement actions.

For this reason, crèches and schools become most crucial learning environment in the development of children, especially the pre-schoolers, as that is where their foundation for all future learning is built.

It is also said that crèches help ensure the holistic development of the child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs that build a
solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.

Children who receive such quality care at the Pre-school level are, therefore, more likely to develop social and learning skills at a younger age while the skills help them to build and maintain better relationships with parents, adults and other children.

Therefore, the importance of establishing these
creches cannot be over-emphasised as they would help ensure the Ghanaian child gains the needed academic, emotional, and social skills to move to the next level in school.

Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s First Lady, through The Rebecca Foundation, has introduced the “Market Crèches” project under its ‘Terema Initiative’ that seeks to support women to improve their economic status and general well-being.

Through Terema, the Foundation is putting up crèches in a number of markets in various parts of the country to cater for toddlers and pre-schoolers of traders, while they concentrate on their businesses.

Currently, four of the crèches are under construction at the Dome and Adenta markets in Accra, Koforidua Zongo Market in the Eastern Region; and the Apremdo Market in the Western Region.

It is expected that each crèche will have auxiliary facilities including washrooms, changing rooms, a health post and canteen and will be accommodating 100-150 children.

The Rebecca Foundation believes that building these creches will serve as safe, accessible, and affordable childcare centres, which will give women and families the choice and opportunity to work in tranquility.

The many societal dangers that these vulnerable children are exposed to in the markets including kidnapping and child abuse, among others, adversely affect, not just the future of these children, but the peace and wellbeing of mothers and families.

An interaction with some markets women in Accra has revealed their yearning for such crèches that are closer to where they trade, to offer a conducive learning environment for their pre-schoolers.

Some of the women welcomed the Rebecca Foundation’s Market crèches initiative and said it would help in keeping their children from loitering in the markets and getting exposed to the filth and noise, usually found in market settings.

Madam Margaret Donkor, a trader in children’s clothing, said: “We welcome the crèches very well because we can’t even get someone to leave our toddlers and pre-schoolers at home with, especially when the Free-SHS is encouraging all house-helps to go to school.”

To ensure relevance and sustainability of the project, the Foundation is working closely with the relevant state institutions and agencies as well as the beneficiary market associations to ensure that qualified personnel are recruited to manage these facilities.

The collaboration would also help in identifying other societal needs of the market women and vulnerable children, so the needed solutions can be provided.

The market crèches project underscores the mission of the Rebecca Foundation, established by the First Lady in 2017 upon the assumption of office of her husband, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Through the Foundation, the First Lady has also initiated and executed well thought-out programmes to complement efforts of government in addressing social issues.

The Foundation, has other objectives, which include enhancing literacy and learning skills in children, improving the health of children, reducing maternal mortality, improving environmental health as well as providing avenues to increase the economic contribution of women.

It believes that in implementing such programmes, household income will be cushioned while living standards would be improved, translating into progress, which in turn, enforces the gains made by specific developmental interventions.

If the conviction of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to make early childhood care and education go beyond the preparation for primary school with the possibility to nurturing the future generation is anything to go by, then all well-meaning Ghanaians must endeavour to support the establishment of the crèches and other pre-school centres to ensure that children everywhere get access to preschool education.

For Jessica Alvarado, an Educationist, “Early childhood education is important because these are critical development years.”

“During this time, valuable relationships are formed in children’s lives, and partnerships developed between teachers, peers, and parents.

“Please don’t let your child miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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