This global, multichannel program aims to increase awareness around the importance of a child’s early years and to empower parents and guardians to give children the best start in life. Namibia is the first of five planned countries to go live with the program on the African continent and the third of 30 planned countries in the global rollout, following Indonesia in March and Afghanistan in May of this year.
The program has been designed to disseminate content to parents and caregivers through digital and non-digital channels, tailored to each country’s specific cultural settings and language. The program is underpinned by those core products:
The Thrive by Five App for parents and guardians of children aged 0-5 years, and in Namibia localised in three local languages (English, Afrikaans and Oshindonga)
The Thrive by Five content available in digital and non-digital formats, and in Namibia localised into seven national languages
Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Minderoo Foundation, Nicola Forrest AO, said: “We are incredibly proud to launch the Thrive by Five program in Namibia today in collaboration with the government of the Republic of Namibia.
“The government’s commitment to early childhood development has been demonstrated throughout our collaborative program development process — and has deeply humbled and motivated us to reach as many parents as possible, particularly in the most remote communities. We believe other nations can learn from this dedication to prioritising a country’s most important asset — their children.”
“Early childhood development is a national priority for Namibia,” Saara Kuugongelwa, Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, said.
“It is a key pillar of Namibia’s Harambee Prosperity Plan for economic recovery and inclusive growth. Education is the most important means of building an equitable society, but formal education is founded on cognitive development which takes place in the early years.
“Simply, the first five years are critical to the lifelong trajectory of our citizens. This campaign will be an important addition to our existing efforts to enhance early childhood development in Namibia and I look forward to its launching in my country.”
Dr Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman of Minderoo Foundation, said Minderoo Foundation was looking to achieve a global paradigm shift for children around the world.
“Every child, no matter where they live, has a right to have the best possible start to life. The Thrive by Five program is based on the latest child development research and places it in the hands of parents. High-quality interactions between parents and children in the early years have a profound impact on a child’s brain development and well-being. Informed and empowered parents will set children up to reach their full potential now and in the future,” Dr Forrest said.
“Our special focus is on communities where awareness of the importance of early childhood development is low — or where access to this information is limited — and providing them with easily accessible information, tailored to them.”
To ensure maximum accessibility, the content is available on lower tech, aging devices and via a range of channels including messaging services, radio, television, print and digital media.
The primary goal of the program is to inspire and equip parents and caregivers to have more frequent and quality interactions with children, and thereby change their behaviour by highlighting simple games like peek-a-boo (also known as Koe-Koe in Namibia) that are scientifically proven to have a significant impact on a child’s development.
The Thrive by Five content and app has been developed by Minderoo Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and technology partner, B.B.E.
It is based on in-depth anthropological analysis of parenting and community norms, gender and parenting roles, as well as religious, cultural and environmental factors of each target country. This context is then married up with scientific foundations around the social and cognitive brain, physical health, communication/language as well as identity and culture. The result is a collection of tips relevant to the national and cultural context of each country.
Scientific lead Professor Ian Hickie of the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney, said: “This program is a world-first. It uniquely combines new insights from the science of early brain development with the application of place-specific cultural knowledge. That’s a real challenge but also the beauty of the project.”
He added, “It’s a real privilege, and a massive learning experience for us, to work with people in each country, and be supported by Minderoo Foundation. We can bring neuroscience and the practices of child-rearing together to create an environment that will help each child to reach their maximum cognitive and emotional potential.”
B.B.E. is Minderoo Foundation’s technology partner for the project. B.B.E.’s Managing Director, Adam Beaupeurt, said “It is incredibly exciting and rewarding to have the opportunity to be part of such an important global project.
“We knew immediately that this was an ambitious project we wanted to be involved with; the passion of the team is palpable, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Minderoo team to build the digital experience to roll out across the globe.”
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.