| Zee Yusri |
EARLY childhood plays a pivotal role in a child’s upbringing, future education, security and prosperity, which enhances the economic development and social scopes in the country.
Early childhood development comprises not only education, but also health, sustenance, protection, gender and future employment. Thus, entrée to high-quality early childhood growth is the right of every child as it is a collaborative duty to ensure the child’s survival and development, access to health services, education, protection from mistreatment, neglect and a reputable upbringing in a loving and encouraging family environment.
These were underscored by Siti Zaharah binti Hj Abdul Razak, Head of Children Services Unit, Family Development Section, Community Development Department, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports during her conference paper presentation yesterday at Jubilee Hall, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA).
She revealed that Brunei has always accorded a high priority to children’s development in the national agenda as it is dedicated to uphold and protect the rights and well being of children.
This is done through ensuring equal access to education, health, housing, sanitation, clean water and protection from abuse and maltreatment.
“We strongly believe that a secure and caring family ambiance are the best settings to nurture children and both parents must bear chief responsibilities in their child’s development. The government will support and render appropriate assistance to them in this venture,” said Siti Zaharah.
Through research and studies, it revealed that mistreatment of children in a family triggers long-term impairment to their intelligence, emotional welfare and even their physical figure. Families, especially parents, star as a fundamental influence in shaping the values of children.
“The ability to cope with and adjust to life problems and demands are based upon the psychological foundations of early family experiences.”
Some cases in Brunei include children lodging reports at the police stations on abusive actions towards them, not only by their parents, but from older siblings as well. For children in need of protection from all forms of violence, abuse and negligence, Brunei has in place legislations which provide legal safeguards, care and protection.
Siti Zaharah also revealed that the Action Team on Child Protection (ATOCP) established under the Children and Young Person’s Order will involve many agencies including law enforcement agencies, medical officers and social workers. ATOCP will serve as a focal point for any abuse cases and negligence including making recommendations to court for the child’s placements.
“The challenges are to change our mindset especially parents and people, in general. We also have limited resources and technological advancements that are moving at the speed of light today. These have yet to be addressed,” she highlighted.
She concluded that Brunei will always strive to boost early childhood care not only in education development, but also in other areas including designing a better intervention to prevent violence against children.