The Peruvian Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion coordinates efforts for the prioritization of public policies that benefit early childhood among the different governmental levels. In 2014, the National Multisectoral Commission for Early Childhood was created and it currently has a Performance Incentive Fund that is allocated throughout the country. The goal of this Fund is to contribute to achieving results regarding Early Childhood Development; besides, regional events have been taking place towards the same goal. At regional level, actions have been carried out to influence regional decision makers so that they give priority to said policies in the regional and local agendas; we also seek to promote coordination mechanisms that allow for their effective implementation giving priority to the poor and extremely poor sectors of the population.
Ages ranging between 0 and 5 correspond to an age group that does not bring about any political gain nor any visible results in the short term and, therefore, the challenge is bigger; however, it is important to highlight that there is a large amount of research work as well as national and international scientific support that account for the importance of investing in early childhood.
Within this framework of work, I have extracted a series of lessons from the “Leaders of change: developing Latin American policymakers’ capacity to promote the use of knowledge in policy” online course, developed by P&I during April and May 2015.
The first lesson relates to how to promote the creation, recording and use of internal information. This issue is specially challenging for my country: while Regional Directorates have administrative and information systems in place that keep a daily data record related to the processes, procedures, services and activities carried out, irregularities have been detected in said records such as gaps, inconsistencies, delays in the registration process, etc. A first analysis led to the conclusion that the number of computer equipment is not enough and that many registration points did not have Internet access. Thanks to the fulfilled promise of an incentive fund, an additional budget will soon be available for those Regional Directorates.
As a concrete action, we propose to influence on the use said incentive funds in order to overcome said difficulties and critical issues (purchase of PCs, acquisition of portable Internet devices or others) so that we can contribute to the creation of timely internal information related to results obtained in Childhood Development issues. To do so, we have reports obtained from management and IT systems by MIDIS (Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion) that account for the current internal information registration situation in Regional Directorates that allows us to show actual examples of internal information use. Likewise, another action would be fostering meetings involving those in charge of information records allowing them to place and envision their role in the social result production chain. Both actions shall contribute to the effective registration and use of internal information.
Another important lesson is that public policies are multiplayer procedures: therefore, preparing a stakeholders map may, among other benefits, allow us to relate potential local information/knowledge generators with users and/or decision makers, as well as local academic sectors with decision makers, or citizens (knowledge-needs) with decision makers.
In this sense, we propose to identify researcher circles or networks within the region, university representatives interested in contributing to early child development or who are already working on the issue, and adding them to the regional stakeholders map, taking their interests, resources and power into account.
A later course of action may be to promote the commitment of those stakeholders to conducting studies (undergraduate or master’s degree thesis) that include citizens’ knowledge and interests regarding early childhood development.
Finally, this course also allowed me to become more aware of the need for dynamic formats to communicate evidence and, to do so, the decision maker’s profile must be taken into account. The common denominator among decision makers is their lack of time; therefore, it is necessary to have key, accurate elements that call their attention.
To do so, I am focused on designing a summary chart including health, education, environment and other regional indicators that account for the current early childhood situation. The idea is to include the prevalence of certain situations or social problems or public health issues which, according to scientific evidence, can be prevented if actions promoting early childhood development are implemented. It shall also be important to supplement figures with images.
Finally, I would like to point out that it is a priority to narrow the gap between knowledge generation (internal and external / local, national and international) and its use in making decisions towards human and social development.
Special thanks to those who made these rediscoveries possible: the facilitators and those who took part in this course.