Speaking Monday after meeting President of foundation, Switzerland tennis superstar Roger Federer in Lilongwe, Vice President Saulos Chilima said children are the future of any country and appealed to more development partners and other stakeholders to support government’s effort by investing heavily in the programme.
He said it is common knowledge that government alone cannot achieve provision of early childhood development without the support of stakeholders like development partners and philanthropists.
“The foundation’s financial support to Malawi is greatly improving the Integrated Early Childhood Development service delivery which, in turn, is improving the lives and well-being of thousands of poor and vulnerable children,” Chilima said.
Chilima added that it is pleasing to note that the foundation through Action Aid International, UNICEF and other development partners are supporting the Malawi Government with its Integrated ECD programme.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Roger Federer Foundation for its generosity of complementing the Government’s efforts in investing in this important area of the future of our children.
“As a country, we have special interest in ECD program. Government is determined to propel the ECD agenda forward mainly because children who benefit from early childhood development services tend to do well in school and, generally, have more advanced social skills,” said Chilima.
In his remarks, Federer, who is visiting Malawi for the first time said the country needed more funds to support development of children.
Federer, ranked as the second best male tennis player in the world, said early childhood development is crucial as it empowers children to reach their fullest potential.
“Too many children are waiting for good preschools and ECD centers; Malawi needs more efforts and funds for the education of younger children. We should not miss this generation to be better educated because children are the future and we all want a better future for Malawi.
"I am full of joy because I know that children will receive high quality early childhood education, get nutritious food plus improve their skills and social behavior,” he said.
Through his foundation, Federer has invested US$13 million in supporting a 10-year Comprehensive Early Childhood Development programme in Nsanje, Machinga, Rumphi, Chitipa, Lilongwe and Ntchisi where 50 centers have already been constructed.
Federer and Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati opened one of the centers at Dzenza in Lilongwe.
Kaliati praised Federer saying construction of the center will help in ending child marriages in the community and children will attain education from a young age.
The financial support covers health, sanitation, nutrition, materials, parenting education, construction of ECD infrastructure, capacity building of caregivers and provision of nutritious meals to children.