Tuesday, 26 September 2017

UNICEF Canvasses Four Weeks Paid Paternity Leave

Rebecca Ejifoma

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday recommended six months paid maternity leave and four weeks paid paternity leave to ensure healthy development of young children in the country.

The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Mohammed Fall, disclosed this at the National Early Childhood Development (ECD) conference held in Abuja with the theme, ‘Investing early in Nigerian children'.

Fall, however, recommended two years pre-primary education, adding that the policies would afford parents time and resources needed to support their young children’s healthy development. “Nigeria currently has three months paid maternity leave, only one year free pre-education and no paternity leave.”

Based on the 2016 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, the representative affirmed that the key indicators of child development remain low in ally.

He expressed that only about 40 per cent of children within the ages of 36 and 59 months were attending an organised early childhood education programme, while more than 31 per cent of children under the age of five are moderately and severely underweight.

“Yet research in the Lancet series 2016 shows that early childhood education programme is a foundation for health, productivity, learning and social cohesion.”
Fall said that the conference was aimed at creating awareness on the meaning and importance of the early years of a child from conception to five years in early childhood nutrition, education and development.

Art work by Gab Awusa
“Nigeria is putting its children at risk of underdeveloped both physically and mentally because critical national policies are not providing an adequate foundation for their growth. During the first one year of a child’s life the brain grows rapidly,” he said.

According to him, providing good nutrition, loving care and appropriate play provide solid foundation for child’s learning and eventual contribution to economic and social growth.

“Early Childhood Development includes physical and cognitive support has a strategic place in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs ).

“Investing in ECD includes services to support caregivers, quality pre-primary education and good nutrition will help to secure healthy and productive future generations in Nigeria,” says Fall.

“Supporting exclusive breastfeeding, having good ECD policies in place will help to improve the overall health of a child, enable parents and care givers to be more responsive to children’s needs and provide greater safety and security,” he added.

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