ABU DHABI, 20th July, 2022 (WAM) — The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) has announced awarding AED1.2 million in funding across five significant research projects related to Early Childhood Development (ECD).
The projects will be conducted by researchers and academics coming from local and international higher education institutions.
The move comes within the ECA’s efforts to develop and implement an effective ECD research ecosystem, inform evidence-based policymaking, and support planning and quality improvement. This contributes to the ECA’s endeavours to promote holistic child development and wellbeing from pregnancy to the age of eight, by focusing on four sectors, including health and nutrition, child protection, family support, education and early care.
In this regard, Hamda Mohamed Al Suwaidi, a senior researcher at the ECA said, “The research projects will enable the 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, the 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,” she added.
Al Suwaidi affirmed that the ECA is working on developing an integrated research ecosystem utilising new technologies, artificial intelligence applications and robust scientific methodologies.
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 at evaluating 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 comprises 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, Prof. Hala Elhoweris, and Omniah Gharib Al-Qahtani.
Another project is focusing 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 the UAEU.