Client(s): Open Society Institute in Southern Africa
Expertise: Early Childhood Development
Early childhood development (ECD) programs have been identified as one of the most critical components for breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality, particularly among the most vulnerable populations such as those affected by HIV.
Although ECD is a growing priority of the Government of Swaziland (GoS), just 21.6% of children had access to some form of pre-school education prior to entering the formal system as of 2009. Much remains to be done not only to expand access to ECD services, but also to improve service quality among existing providers.
Since 2011, World Education's Bantwana Initiative has worked in the Lubombo region with funding from the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa to support the establishment and strengthening of quality ECD services for vulnerable children. Efforts include:
- Training of teachers/instructors from community preschools and National Care Points – most of which have little education - to equip them with the skills and materials to provide quality ECD services to vulnerable children in their communities
- Development of a Teacher’s Handbook for Early Childhood Care and Education which provides teachers with information on appropriate ECD themes and approaches that can be used in their classrooms
- Supporting the Ministry of Education and Training in the development of national ECD standards and a formal ECD syllabus that can be used to guide ECD centers across the country
- Establishing gardens in community preschools to promote nutrition and linking children from community preschools to health care services
- Community sensitization to promote ownership and support of ECD among parents, local government and traditional leaders