what we do... and why
We work to improve the education and care given to pre-school children in highly deprived communities in Ghana and Uganda. We work through local government to train and empower Mothers to provide better care at home and run educational Play Schemes that give young children in their community better life chances.
The period between birth and 6 years old is a critical time of child development. Research shows that children who do not receive quality care and education in their early years are less likely to succeed in school giving them lower earning potential, and a greater risk of poor health, poverty, early marriage and parenthood. Over 250m children under 5 do not receive the care they need, with far reaching consequences for the child, for national & for global development.
In the rural areas where we work, where most families earn less than US$2 per day, there are two critical challenges.
Policy efforts are focussed on ECD centres and formal “schooling”: but this is not resulting in learning. ECD Centres are often not accessible or affordable to many, and Kindergarten quality is generally low as a result of lack of teacher training and learning materials, large class sizes and rote based teaching.
Parenting practices are poor: caused by lack of confidence, aspiration and information. A recent Save the Children/UNICEF study in Malawi estimates the primary children spend 76% of their time at home, therefore the impact of poor parenting is high.
Our Solution is Deceptively Simple
Parents are the sleeping giant. In each village, 30-40 mothers are enrolled on a group parenting course. The course is designed to change mindsets, build confidence and teach simple ways to use cost-free resources to improve their parenting and provide better care and education at home.The trained Mothers take it in turns to run educational Play Schemes for all the pre-schoolers in their village. Working to a carefully designed a structure and pedagogy, the children learn by playing in small groups with a variety of home-made educational games
No additional workforce or expensive infrastructure is needed, It uses just cheap, local materials, empowering the most uneducated and resource-poor to provide quality learning and care.
Designed for Scale
Our implementation model has been developed and fine-tuned over 11 years. We work in partnership with government, who own and implement the programme, integrating it into their existing systems. The approach has been designed to be adaptable to local structures, is scalable, sustainable and cost effective.
Using a ‘Train the Trainers’ approach, local government teams are sensitised in how to deliver and monitor the programme. In turn, they train and support community based trainers who deliver the Parenting Course to the Mothers, and supervise the Play Schemes. These trainers come from existing workforces. in Ghana they are Kindergarten teachers and in Uganda we use Village Health Teams.
We provide the technical support, curriculum, expertise and processes, enabling governments to own and sustain the changes being made.
Our Impact and Benefits
Our hybrid and integrated approach not only significantly improves the school readiness of pre-school children, it also positively impacts mothers and government service providers.
We have a simple structured programme that is delivered through and strengthens government systems, and is designed to be implemented in remote, resource-poor rural communities where the need for ECCE is highest. Having spent 11 years implementing and optimising the programme we are ready to scale, with global potential.
Between 2017 and 2018 a rigorous Randomised Control Trial of our programme in Ghana, conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Innovations for Poverty Action showed positive impact on all development domains; cognitive, socio-emotional and health. Mothers showed improved parenting practises and knowledge of ECCE.