“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children,” said Nelson Mandela. We at UNICEF take this very seriously—working tirelessly to save children’s lives, to defend their rights and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
The exciting IKEA IWitness visit comes days after people around the globe celebrated World Children’s Day, and the IKEA Foundation launched the 2018 Let’s Play for Change campaign. Now this visit adds to our reason to celebrate and showcase the joy we bring in the lives of every girl and boy through this partnership.
The IKEA team from Italy and Switzerland will visit Mumbai, the financial capital of India, and Aurangabad, another historic city, both in the state of Maharashtra. The visit starting 26 November will witness our Early Childhood Development programme, implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the IKEA Foundation. The 17-year-long partnership upholds the cause of child rights across many states in India.
UNICEF’s intention with this partnership is that, through play and early learning, children will learn from an early age to interact, play and communicate with those from the other gender. The programme’s target is to fully engage both mothers and fathers, emphasizing the importance of both parents being involved in the care and development of their children—as well as in decision-making.
Since 2016, UNICEF has also been supporting a five-year study on early childhood education, tracking students from preschool to the early primary grades. Moreover, it is helping to develop early learning and development standards for children aged zero to eight.
During the IWitness visit, the team will travel in two groups to visit a set of three villages. Each group will visit one village to understand the delivery of non-formal preschool education in Anganwadi centres, accompany an Anganwadi worker for a home visit, and participate in a mothers’ meeting. There, they will meet the Anganwadi workers, who are the frontline workers, and observe how they engage with children and make the experience of learning a joyful one.
The programme reaches out to 5,000 frontline workers who receive mentoring and support as they reach parents and family members with the key messages on Early Childhood Development. This work builds on ongoing government programmes and supports implementation of the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy. This strategy has been adopted to ensure a lasting effect on the government system, as well as in the communities with whom they work.
While they will be able to cover only a small geographical area during this visit, it will nonetheless profile the impact that the IKEA Foundation and UNICEF partnership has in ensuring every child has the best possible start in life.