For 35 years now, Indonesia has been celebrating its National Children’s Day every 23rd day of July since it was declared in 1984. The declaration is a reminder to all Indonesians to always recognize and respect children's rights. "The Role of Family in the Protection of Children" was a fitting theme for this year’s celebration. This theme reinforces the fact that a family has a critical responsibility in a child’s growth and development. The celebration this year was held at Lapangan Karebosi, Makassar and featured various activities involving different sectors. The active role of family and environment, however, is still wanting in Indonesia to enable children to realize their maximum potentials as human beings.
In the Malnutrition Conceptual Framework by UNICEF, negligent parenting is one of the factors causing malnutrition in children, along with the lack of access to food and health services as well as unhealthy environment. For this reason, support for optimal parenting for child growth is needed, both in the family and outside the family environment.
The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Food and Nutrition (RECFON) is a strong supporter of children’s rights particularly on their rights to good nutrition necessary for their proper growth and development. The Centre actualizes this through its Early Childhood Care, Nutrition, and Education (ECCNE) or Anakku Sehat dan Cerdas as one of its flagship programs.
This program is aimed to provide a model of integrated implementation of essential components to optimize child growth and development. These components, as indicated in the ECCNE Program Conceptual Framework and arranged in a form of a house, consist of 1) Enabling socioeconomic and cultural environments, 2) Parenting, 3) Care and Education, 4) Health and Nutrition, and 5) Policy and Multi-sectoral Participation.
The Centre collaborates with two other SEAMEO Centres for this program, namely: SEAMEO Regional Centre for Early Childhood Care Education and Parenting (CECCEP) and SEAMEO Regional Centre for Tropical Biology (TROPMED) network. The partnership believes that every child has the right to receive and demand for interventions from any of these components toward his/her optimal growth and development.
One of the health threats that confront a child daily is the danger of tobacco smoke exposure in a family setting. Exposure to second hand cigarette smoke has been considered as highly dangerous to the health of non-smokers. Family members who smoke at home or in their immediate house environment do not realize that cigarette smoke leaves toxic residues that could be inhaled by children everyday, known as thirdhand smoking. In addition, early initiation to smoking habits in the family could also influence children to become smokers. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites more than half of children (57.3%) aged 13-15 years are exposed to smoking habits within their home environment. This explains why the prevalence of child smokers continues to increase in the past few years. The Centre is currently engaged in a research project on tobacco tax allocation for nutritional program on resolving stunting to support this advocacy.
Through the ECCNE program, SEAMEO RECFON assists the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia in implementing Presidential Decree Number 60 of 2013 concerning the Holistic Integrative Early Childhood Education (ECE) concepts (PAUD HI). The Centre helps in strengthening the capacities of ECE PAUD teachers to create a conducive school environment for early childhood schoolers particularly in the aspect of food and nutrition.
Protecting children's rights is a shared responsibility within a family and by various sectors of the society. While a family may be regarded to play the greatest role to ensure optimal growth and development of children, support from government institutions, nongovernmental agencies, civil society groups, academe, and development organizations are certainly needed. SEAMEO RECFON stands tall to be counted on this aspect. As the saying goes, it takes one village to raise a child.