Field Story Details

Early childhood education - getting in early for a great start to life
December 1, 2009
The row of colorful sandals lined up outside is a sure sign that school is underway. Inside there are over twenty little faces all focused on Mita, their teacher, who is singing a song about sanitation. Next she asks the children, aged between three and five, who would like to sing next, and she’s met by a show of eager hands. Welcome to another morning of early childhood education in Kisholoi, Swandip Island.

Early childhood education is prioritised in CARE Bangladesh’s Strengthening Household Ability to Respond to Development Opportunities (SHOUHARDO) program as an effective tool for improving food security over the long term. Studies show that children who receive an education have increased earning potential as adults, and are better equipped to make positive life decisions such as marry later, follow good sanitation practices, and have smaller family sizes. It is the goal of
SHOUHARDO’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) intervention to
provide children with the head start they need to overcome some of the barriers of poverty and look towards a future of food security.

The ECCD intervention takes an holistic approach to childhood development. By incorporating early childhood education with parenting classes, nutrition, and developing linkages with the local community and local governance through ECCD Committees and Parent and Teachers Associations (PTA), the aim is to promote the importance of childhood education while simultaneously developing sustainable systems that can be supported into the future.

In the village of Kisholoi, the ECCD system is thriving, and the community is proud of the results. “So far two grades, or thirty-eight students have graduated from this school. Before there was no early childhood school here, and our children had to wait,” said Mohammed Rahul, President of the Village Development Committee and member of the ECCD Management Committee. Currently there are twenty-two
children who attend the classes held in a building borrowed from a local member of government. Securing more permanent accommodation from the government is a priority for the ECCD Management Committee who also uses the same building for its meetings, and monthly parenting 2 classes. For the moment though, this building provides a home for the bustling ECCD activities, and the walls are lined with posters demonstrating its productivity from teaching the alphabet to birth registrations and class enrolment records.

Also on the agenda of the ECCD Committee is establishing a funding plan to continue the ECCD activities once the SHOUHARDO program ends in September this year. “We will collect 40 taka per month from every family, and we will use this to pay Mita’s salary,” says Mohammed Rahul. Currently Mita, as the ECCD Volunteer, receives 1,500 taka per month from SHOUAHRDO to teach based on CARE’s Shishu Bikash Kendra1 (SBK) guidelines, which emphasizes
learning through playing.

As for Mita herself, “I love teaching, and I love the children, I will keep teaching here as long as I can,” she says. It is clear the children love her too. As they busily draw pictures of their family and build towers with building blocks, they call her over
intermittently to show off their handy work. “Learning through playing works,” Mita tells us as she bends down to draw a flower in pink chalk for three girls crowded around their chalk board, “and if I make learning fun, they will want to learn forever!”

By Lyrian Fleming,Regional Communications Assistant

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