Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) has awarded Dh1.2 million to five research projects focussing on early childhood development.
The projects will be conducted by researchers and academics at local and international higher education institutions, and will support ECA’s efforts to promote holistic child development in Abu Dhabi.
The ECA aims to develop an effect research ecosystem for early childhood development that can inform evidence-based policymaking, support planning and quality improvement. The authority focuses on child development and wellbeing from pregnancy to the age of eight, and focusses on four key sectors, including health and nutrition, child protection, family support, and education and early care.
“The research projects will enable ECA and its partners to address challenges facing young children and their families in Abu Dhabi, thus developing effective and evidence-based solutions. Through our collaboration with researchers from local and international universities and institutions, ECA seeks to address two ECD-related challenges in Abu Dhabi – chronic absenteeism and early intervention. This collaboration aims to deliver insights for policymakers, service providers, and other stakeholders to take action to support the ECD sector,” said Hamda Al Suwaidi, ECA senior researcher.
The five awarded research projects include two studies on chronic absenteeism among young children in Abu Dhabi. The first research team is made up of academics from the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), including principal investigator Dr Qilong Zhang, and co-principal investigators Dr Najwa Alhosani and Dr Ghadah Al Murshidi.
The second research study is also aimed at exploring the causes of school absenteeism in young children in Abu Dhabi. This research is led by Dr Brien Ashdown from the American University of Sharjah.
The ECA will also fund two research projects aimed to evaluate health professionals’ knowledge and attitudes with regard to supporting young children of determination and their families in Abu Dhabi. The research is led by a team from the Emirates College of Advanced Education, including principal investigator Dr Michelle Kelly, and co-principal investigators Prof. Shaljan Areepattamannil, Amina Al Jasmi, Dr Clodagh Murray, and Dr Bryan Roche. The second study on this topic will be comprised of academics from the UAEU, including principal investigator Dr Emma Pearson, and co-principal investigators Dr Rami Al-Rifai, Dr Rachel Takriti, Dr Maria Efstratopoulou, Dr Ashraf Mustafa, Dr Maxwell Opoku, Dr Hala Elhoweris, and Omniah Gharib Al-Qahtani.
The final funded project focusses on the language assessment of Emirati children with atypical language development. The research is led by principal investigator Dr Dimitrios Ntelitheos, and co-principal investigator Dr Alexandra Marquis, from UAEU.