It is my absolute pleasure to have Dame Tessa Jowell, MP, as my guest blogger, especially as the topic and petition on promoting early childhood development is very close to my heart and I am an advocate for this campaign. Dame Jowell’s petition mirrors the World Forum in Early Care and Education support of the Millennium Development Goals. They are aiming to have the Millennium Development Goals featured at their International Conference in Puerto Rico, May 2014.
Dame Jowell writes:
“In July I travelled to Malawi with Ivan Lewis, MP, Labour’s International Development spokesman to learn about how early childhood development programmes were delivered in countries that lack the resources we have in the UK.
Whilst we were there we visited the Chilomoni Resource Centre run by the international NGO ‘Sightsavers’ in Blantyre. The centre promotes an intensive and structured programme of interaction and stimulation which encourages mothers to play with their disabled children and continue to provide that level of care at home. At another childcare centre in Chisomo we spoke to mothers who talked about the benefits of the community based childcare centre their children attend and the opportunities in life they will have as a result. These mothers could have been anywhere in the world.
We came back from this visit reinforced in our conviction in the principles which underpin programmes like Sure Start in the UK, and that integrating the organisation of support and services for children in their earliest years reaps the biggest benefit.
Today Ivan launched a petition calling on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and UN member states to recognise the vital importance of investing in a child’s earliest years.
We know from experience and evidence in the UK that investing in a child’s earliest years makes the biggest difference to that child’s life – making them healthier, more ready for school and more productive adults and members of their communities. Investing in children early is one of our best long term social and economic policies which brings practical benefits to those children and their families.
That is why I think it is vitally important to ensure that a focus on early childhood development and a commitment to integrating the care, support and services to give a child the best start in life should be at the heart of any new global development framework that replaces the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals galvanised unprecedented interest and resources for fighting poverty and injustice. We now have a unique opportunity to shape the next development framework to ensure that it best embodies our values and commitment to creating a fairer, more prosperous and equal world.
We now need your help to build support for the campaign in the UK and internationally. Share the petition with your friends and networks. Write to David Cameron to express your support for the campaign and desire for the UK to commit to change for children.
Children are our future. So if we believe this approach is right for our children, then surely it should be right for some of the poorest children in the world. Help us to take that first step towards improving the lives of children around the world.”
I’ve already signed the petition and I urge you to go the link today and add your name too. As Dame Tessa says “children are our future” and this applies wherever they live.