Several areas of knowledge, such as economics, education, and neuroscience, have been deepening on the theme of early childhood – a stage that goes up to 6 years of age.
Experts point out that this is one of the most critical stages of human life, so that it develops fully, with higher emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and solid knowledge bases.
Neuroscience, for example, argues that children should be stimulated from the mother’s womb and not after six months of age, as 53% of Brazilians believe it is the right age for children to start learning, according to the booklet ‘ The first years in your hands,’ from the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation.
However, Brazil is far behind other countries when it comes to investment in early childhood. Today, we have approximately 20.6 million children between the ages of 0 and 6 in Brazil, with one in three living in poverty or extreme poverty.
These data are from 2019 and are in the booklet ‘First Years in Your Hands,’ from the Maria Cecilia Vidigal Foundation.
In addition to these figures, other data are of great concern: only 34.2% of children aged 0 to 3 years were in daycare centers in 2018, half of those responsible for children under four years of age have not completed high school, and the highest number of cases of violence happens with children between 1 and 5 years old (51.2%).
In addition to this data, cities lack planning to adequately deal with children, from outdoor spaces to ways to facilitate and streamline universal access to Emergency Care Units (UPAs) and other service points, including poor quality of care. Air. Government officials must have this strategic and humanitarian perspective. These are factors that directly impact children’s development.
Different organizations conduct theories and practices that seek to bring better conditions to children and figure as relevant partners in the public sector because they have national capillarity. This is the case of the National Association of Private Universities (ANUP), whose values open space to consider that attention to early childhood means building the basis for the formation of more qualified students, including, in the future, to pursue higher education.
At this stage of life, fundamental brain skills are developed for the formation of autonomous adults capable of enjoying a better quality of life. According to several researchers, it is in early childhood that the brain connections responsible for the functions that the different structures will perform are established.
Thus, the experiences lived during this period have a decisive impact on brain evolution, significantly impacting adult life’s capacities. Development of executive tasks, such as learning to store and relate information in the short term, dominates attention in places with noise and cognitive flexibility, which allows thinking outside the box, and inhibitory control.
With 250 private higher education institutions as associates, ANUP argues that discussions on early childhood should be an absolute priority in all fields of knowledge – it is necessary to include debates on this subject in the curricula of all courses and not just those of involvement directly with the theme, such as pedagogy and health.
ANUP decided to go beyond expressing and discussing its institutional position on the issue. He chose to ‘challenge’ university students to get involved with the theme, with the background of the mission of forming, in future professionals from different areas, the conscience to develop projects aimed at promoting better child development.
Therefore, the Association, with the support of the Dutch foundation Bernard van Leer and with the technical cooperation of the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), launched the ‘University Challenge for Early Childhood’ This initiative combines theory, the values on which it is based, the practice and promotion of actions that can be positive differentials in early childhood care.
The Challenge aims to encourage students and university professors from different areas to develop practical solutions to issues related to parenting – family as a promoter of children’s development in early childhood – and child-friendly cities.
The most relevant, innovative proposals with a high potential to promote social transformation in this theme will be awarded. Registration is free and open until August 16th. Groups made up of at least two students from any degree, and a teacher from private and public higher education institutions will be able to participate.
Today Brazil has approximately 8 million students in higher education, with 3 million attending partner institutions of ANUP. The Challenge is a way of encouraging the curriculum of the subject of early childhood in higher education to seek the formation of more sustainable thought and aimed at reducing inequalities and training professionals more prepared for the job market.
This action, believes the ANUP, has a significant potential to radiate the due importance of the theme ‘early childhood’ among the formulators of strategies and activities for our children.