ECA funds 14 ECD research projects to the value of AED 6.65 million

The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) has announced an investment of AED 6.65 million in 14 research grants aimed at enhancing early childhood development (ECD) in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. These grants focus on producing actionable evidence which can inform ECD programs and policies throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi while advancing the science of ECD in a culturally relevant manner.

Six UAE universities will conduct the research projects: New York University Abu Dhabi; United Arab Emirates University; Mohamed Bin Rashid School of Government; University of Sharjah; Emirates College for Advanced Education and University of Birmingham – Dubai. The projects aim to significantly impact the development of evidence-based programs and policies for young children and their families in Abu Dhabi.

The grants will support diverse research projects aimed at understanding habits affecting health and nutrition of young children, evaluating the needs of the early childhood development workforce, and better understanding the impacts of fathers on the development of young children – ultimately further advancing the science of ECD in Abu Dhabi.

In this regard, HE Dr. Yousef Al Hammadi, Executive Director – Knowledge and Impact at ECA said “We are committed to advancing the field of early childhood development in Abu Dhabi through ECD research which informs policy and practice.”

In his remarks, he affirmed that “the funding of these grants underscores the UAE government’s commitment to ECD research. Our goal is to support a high-quality ECD research ecosystem which produces contextually relevant research that is used in decision making by policymakers, practitioners, parents, and all who influence the lives of young children in Abu Dhabi towards future social and economic prosperity”.

In addition to the research grants funded through this call for proposals, ECA is funding a series of studies over three years that will serve to amplify children’s voices in ECD research, focusing on obtaining assent from young children to participate in research and ensuring their perspectives are heard and valued.

In this context, Hamda Al Suwaidi – Head of Research at ECA, said “we believe that children’s perspectives are essential to research and policymaking, and this groundbreaking project will help amplify their voices and ensure that they feel safe and are protected when participating in ECD research studies”.

Kerry Anne Lynch, Deputy Head of Early Years at Brighton College -Al Ain, expressed her excitement about the opportunity for young children to participate in research.

She explained “Children can derive numerous benefits not only from the knowledge and policies or programs that emerge from research, but also from the research process itself.  She further noted that “through participation in research studies, children can interact with unfamiliar adults in a safe and protected manner, which can build their confidence and develop their personal and social skills.”

In a call for support from all segments of society in Abu Dhabi, Dr. Iffat El Barazi, Assistant Professor of Health Promotion at UAEU noted, “One area of support that we need, as researchers, is greater participation in research. We need the public to be willing to participate in surveys, focus groups, and lab experiments and we need practitioners to be willing to share their experiences and their needs. This will help us ensure that research is truly culturally grounded and relevant to the needs and context of Abu Dhabi so that it can appropriately translate to policy and practice and positively influence the lives of young children and their families in impactful ways.”

 

To participate in ECA-funded research studies, visit www.eca.gov.ae/research.

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