- As part of the Cero a Siempre (Zero to Always) strategy, Primero lo Primero (First Things First) is a public-private partnership to build, equip and operate 13 new early childhood development centers in different regions of Colombia, which will be serving over 5,920 children.
- This initiative was born thanks to the significant contributions of the Ministry of Education and the ICBF and commitment of the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation- FMSD-, the ALAS Foundation, the Barefoot Foundation and aeioTu – Carulla Foundation and 30 public and private institutions.
- The partnership was launched at an event that featured Shakira, Alejandro Santo Domingo and Maria Clemencia Rodriguez de Santos, First Lady of the nation.
Cartagena de Indias, April 12, 2012: The Mario Santo Domingo Foundation-FMSD-, the ALAS Foundation, the Barefoot Foundation and aeioTu – Carulla Foundation have created an unprecedented alliance in the country, in favor of early childhood in Colombia.
The main objective of the Primero lo Primero (First Things First) alliance is to gather technical, administrative and financial cooperation around the development of the country’s children under 5 years of age. For the construction of this initiative, the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation made a donation of $ 20 million and the Barefoot Foundation will ensure the continued education of children in the school system. ALAS as a mobilizer of Latin American society for the cause of early childhood, will conduct strategic work at the regional and international levels to manage additional support from allies.
Meanwhile, AeioTu-Carulla Foundation is responsible for the operation of the comprehensive care centers that will be built in the future and for an initial grant of about 3.2 million dollars for the operation of two years. These funds leverage an investment of over $24 million for the first 13 centers by the national government through its quality strategy – Cero a Siempre.
Primero lo Primero (First Things First), was introduced today April 12th, at an event that was attended by Shakira, Colombian artist, Founder and Honorary President of the Barefoot Foundation and Founder and activist of ALAS Foundation, Alejandro Santo Domingo, managing council member of Mario Santo Domingo Foundation, Ken Brotman, President of aeioTu - Carulla Foundation and Maria Clemencia Santos, First Lady of the Nation, among others. This event was held in Bicentennial City (Cartagena), a macroproject of the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation, which will feature one of the aeioTu early childhood centers.
To contribute to this great challenge, Primero lo Primero (First Things First) committed to undertake the construction, equipping and operation of 13 new aeioTU centers in five departments of Colombia (Bolivar, Cundinamarca, Chocó, Magdalena and Atlantic), achieving a total coverage of 5,929 children who will receive high-quality comprehensive care. Priority will be given to children who are in the Family Welfare homes or other ICBF programs.
"This is an example of the public and private sector meeting to make education and child nutrition a national priority. From the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation we invite all businesses and institutions of the country to combine their efforts for early childhood through the vehicle of Primero lo Primero. As we all know, the first years of a person’s life are definitive in the formation of their physical, cognitive and psychosocial skills, which depend heavily on access to health, nutrition and education. If we guarantee these conditions, we are ensuring the progress of our country, "said Alejandro Santo Domingo, member of the Board of Directors of the Mario Santo Domingo Foundation.
"With Primero lo Primero, we begin to realize the dream of guaranteeing the basic nutrition, education, health and early learning for our children in Colombia in the early years of life, the most crucial to their future. With this alliance we confirm that the best social work is done when the private sector decides to join the public sector to maximize resources and efforts,” stressed Shakira, Founder and Honorary President of the Barefoot Foundation, Founder and activist of the ALAS Foundation.
In turn, President Ken Brotman of aeioTu - Carulla Foundation added, "currently in Colombia 56% of the 4.3 million children under the age of four are in extreme poverty. Of these children, approximately 30% receive some aid from the government and less than 20% receive some form of education to promote their cognitive and socio-emotional development. With Primero lo Primero and aeioTu centers, we have the opportunity to change this reality and help the greatest number of the country’s children under five years old receive high-quality comprehensive care, transforming Colombia through the development of early childhood potential. "
As allies for the opening of the 13 comprehensive care centers, Primero lo Primero has the support of 11 public organizations, 5 private businesses and 14 social and multilateral organizations committed to this goal throughout the country.
The cost for the implementation and operation of the 13 high-quality centers during two years is about $ 36 million. The public sector is providing all of the plots of land - most of which were initially donated by the private sector-and about $25 million, mainly for construction and operation. The private sector-in this case 18 institutions – will provide the remaining funds ($12 million) to ensure adequate staffing, training and quality implementation of this initiative.
The interest of Primero lo Primero (First Things First) coincides with the national government, which through various initiatives such as the "De Cero a Siempre" and other public policies, is seeking to provide early childhood care in areas such as integrated care, health, education and recreation.