UNICEF organized a state level media roundtable on early childhood care and development

Bhubaneswar : Research shows that early years of a child is critical for its brain development. While the child’s genes provide the brain’s blueprint, it is the child’s experiences and the environment h/she are brought up in, that shape and connect it. Investing in this phase of life determines the child’s brain development and potential.

Keeping in mind the importance of early childhood development, UNICEF organized a state level media roundtable here today. Addressing the media were Dr (Prof) Ajit Kumar Mohanty, retired professor of psychology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Prof. Bhaswati Patnaik, Head, Department of Psychology, Utkal University, Lalita Patnaik, Education Specialist and Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Odisha and Alka Gupta, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Odisha.

Setting the context to the media round-table Ms. Lalita Patnaik said, “Children who grow up healthy and educated, loved and protected, are more likely to develop into responsible, productive adults. However, we know that today millions of children across the world are losing out due to poor health, nutrition, and lack of positive stimulation in their lives. Investing in the early years of a child needs multi-disciplinary action: by parents; government, civil society and private sector, working together.”

Addressing the media, Professor Ajit Mohanty said,” The earliest years of life from birth to eight years of age, are the most important period of development when the brain is developing the fastest. Research shows that for optimum brain development children need good nutrition and health, as well as positive stimulation and protection from violence, abuse and neglect. The poorest and most disadvantaged children face the biggest risk of missing out. Poverty, malnutrition and psychosocial deprivations adversely impact the developing brain of the child.”

Prof. Bhaswati Patnaik speaking on the importance of knowledge management said,” Generating evidence and knowledge management of interventions that have worked are critical to understanding early childhood development. The Department of Psychology, Utkal University is contributing towards this effort.”

The sustainable, long-term economic growth of any country nation is related to the overall development of its youngest citizens, its children. The price of not investing in these early years of children leads to poorer health, fewer learning skills and reduced ability to earn as well as greater burden on health, education and welfare services, promoting an inter-generational cycle of disadvantage and inequity.

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