Monday, May 2, 2016

Early Childhood Development, Community and School: The critical links

Quality Basic Education Programme Field Visit, Feb 2016

When it comes to Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), we already know that early interventions positively impact young children’s transition to primary level.  Evidence on enrolment and retention is compelling, but think of the positive implications of the ECCD-community-school linkage:  Strong linkages from ECCD to school and community can also yield multiple benefits. 

From 3-5 February 2016, Southern Shan state and Kayah State provided the backdrop for a Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP) donors Joint Monitoring Field Visit to witness the vital linkage – Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD), community and school.   

Photo © UNICEF/2016
Evidence shows, for ECCD interventions, what matters is “process quality.” Process quality is not concerned with the quality of the facilities where children are given care, rather, it focuses on how interactions occur in the caregiving setting.  Studies show that for children, a rich learning environment is one where they experience interactions that are responsive, warm, sensitive to their perspectives, and plentiful in language. The quality of interactions in the ECD setting plays a crucial role in allowing young children to explore, learn, and ultimately to reach their potential.

The quality and frequency of interaction at the school-based ECCD centre at Basic Education Primary School, Oo Ku Ri, Demawso Township, was clearly apparent to QBEP Development Partners on their visit.  Children at the centre are engaged, happy, cooperative, talkative and as a result learning and both parents and the community feel involved.  Their ECCD day consists of play-based learning, shared meals time, rest time, teacher-led learning tasks and group activities.

This community-based ECCD centre became a school-based centre, with QBEP support in 2014. It caters for 35 children (20 boys; 15 girls) with two caregivers who received ECCD training through QBEP.  A school-based ECCD centre is more effective and sustainable when supported by Head Teacher and other resources that already exist in the adjoining school.  The Head Mistress at this primary school in Oo Ku Ri benefitted from Head Teacher Training (HTT), and other teachers and parents took part in the School Improvement Plan (SIP) training, both supported by QBEP. The HTT includes a topic on Kindergarten education and ECCD; and SIP training, with the participation of parents and other teachers, aims to promote community participation in school management.

Photo © UNICEF/2016
The robust ECCD-community-school linkage through parental and community commitment to the centre is tangible.  A diligent parents’ association who all received SIP training, manages the funds of the centre and 3,500 Kyat is collected from the parents for each child every month, which contributes to the salaries of the ECCD caregivers. There are 10 children enrolled whose parents cannot afford this monthly payment, yet the centre still accepts them as the parents’ association recognises the many benefits of ECCD and do not wish these children to miss out.
Not alone has the community embraced the ECCD programme instigated through QBEP, they have taken steps to ensure its sustainability.  Through QBEP assistance, the centre received a contribution for construction of the ECCD building and seed-funds of 500,000 kyats. Combined with an additional community contribution of 100,000 kyats, the fund totals 600,000 kyats.   The interest from this is used as a contribution to the ECCD caregivers’ salaries and coupled with the monthly parental collection, means that meeting the financial costs of running and staffing the centre is planned for and managed appropriately by the parents’ association. 

The chain of benefits to ECCD, community and school are multiple: children have access to quality ECCD whilst local caregivers receive employment thus improving their income and receive training grounded in good education practice and leadership.  Parents are involved directly through the parents’ association, in the management and provision of the education service for their own children and those of the locality.
“We were very impressed by the achievement of the QBEP, especially in the areas of Head teacher and teacher training, which impacted on quality, the participation of children in the classrooms, and the active involvement of parents and the communities,” said Ms. Isabel Faria de Almeida, Head of Cooperation, European Union.
Deirdre Naughton, Education Communications, UNICEF Myanmar
Myanmar Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP) aims to support the Government of Myanmar to improve access to quality school readiness and primary level education for all children. QBEP is supported by the Multi Donor Education Fund (MDEF), comprising Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Norway and the United Kingdom, and by UNICEF in partnership with the Government of Myanmar.

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