In 2010, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Lesotho's Ministry of Education and Training came together to produce early childhood development (ECD) multimedia products with a special focu
As part of this initiative, approximately 100 participants, including artists, journalist, photographers, graphic designers, animation and music composers, non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives, young people, and education specialists from Lesotho teamed up to translate traditional ECD knowledge and practices into communication products for children and their caregivers. It was an intentional process to ensure that the products came from Lesotho's own people, for the development of their own children - using songs and slogans that evoke traditional values that parents pass on to their children.
The products include illustrated and photo books, posters, animations, and television and radio spots, which focus on promoting positive customs and demystifying the conventional image of children and caregivers with special needs. [For example, the image above is from a photo-based book that relates the story of a young child and her love for her deaf mother.] Key themes of the materials, meant to be inclusive, are: connecting people by valuing diversity, encouraging positive communication between children and adults, and challenging the stigma and stereotypes surrounding disability and HIV and AIDS. The strategy involves creating media that depict ability rather than disability so that children will learn and practice respect for diversity and inclusion.
The products were finalised and pre-tested and, as of February 2011, the books are in the process of being published. Organisers are working to ensure that the products reach all various audiences across the country, including communities, home-based kindergartens, and specialised institutions for children under 6 years of age.
Early Childhood Development, Diversity.
Edith Sebatane, ECD specialist and lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, explains that "by age three, 80% of a child's brain is formed. The developing brain is sensitive to environmental influences such as nutrition, intellectual stimulation, language development, social relationships and bonding. Fathers as well as mothers must be actively involved in the provision of childcare; holding, talking to and playing with babies, protecting and caring for the baby is the responsibility of men and women alike."
Barbara Kolucki was the trainer/facilitator of the workshop and the UNICEF children's media consultant on this project.
UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Training
"Lesotho Produces Innovative Communication Materials for Children's Early Development", July 2 2010 UNICEF Press Release; emails from Clelia Barbadoro and Nurbek Teleshaliyev to The Communication Initiative on February 16 2011; and email from Barbara Kolucki to The Communication Initiative on February 18 2011.