Moving Early Childhood Care and Development Ahead
Post by Marianne O'Grady, Senior Specialist for ECCD, Save the Children
Afghanistan is taking steps forward in nationalizing Early Childhood Development (ECD) so that children age 3-6 have access to and benefit from stimulating, child friendly and holistic programs that support children's development, therefore preparing them for a more successful primary and secondary schooling. SC Afghanistan is engaged with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to draft, finalize and begin nationalizing ECD along with other stakeholder.
The model of programming is being evaluated along with the effectiveness of our programming through some current IDELA research. Our ECD programming has been using our rather new ECD teacher training manual, which is unique and written for the developing context of Afghanistan. We designed our teaching training package for illiterate women, as the women in the villages we have as ECD teachers are often not literate but are experienced, mothers, sisters, brothers and aunts. They have a solid understanding of children, but unfortunately weren't able to learn to read.
- We based our entire training package to be able to be delivered to illiterate teachers so that they are not marginalized any more than they currently are.
- It is based on the four domains of learning: physical, cognitive, emotional/social, and language/math.
- The teachers learn the science, theory and research behind child development and how to promote the best learning in each domain, as well as activities, lessons and practical avenues for children to develop these skills and areas of growth.
- Games, lessons, activities are then learned and linked directly to the theory and science behind learning
- After each phase of training, the teachers are to apply and practice using the games and activities and to take note of how the particular theories, practical tips on management, and lessons work out.
- During the next phases of training, more theory and research are presented along with more activities and games.
With the model of training, use material practically, receive support with SC staff on skills, next phase of training, use materials practically etc, the teachers are receiving large amounts of information based on modern thinking, research and methodology. They are also receiving on going follow up and a community of practice to discuss and improve their skills.
Not all teachers are illiterate but those who are, are included, considered smart and able members of the community and are able to become more elevated in their community as experienced child development experts.
What is unique about the training program is that it is so visual that all non-readers learn to how set up, schedule, run and offer a well-rounded, child centered, positive preschool experience in a country that is just learning about how vital the early years are, and how to capture the best in children with limited resources. The program includes parenting classes offered by the teacher or our staff that include topics such as: positive discipline, health, hygiene, promoting early reading and math skills even if parents are illiterate, child development, sibling rivalry, and the importance of children playing.
The teachers have shared their happiness in the training, the ongoing nature of learning rather than a one off training, and that it includes illiterate village members as important members of the education cycle in a village. SC continues to endeavor towards offering more ECD programs to the children in hard to reach areas such as the conservative south, the returnees from Pakistan living in IDP camps, and children in very rural regions.