Describe your idea in fewer than 50 words.
The project focuses on building strong learning foundations and promoting transitions between ECD and primary schools so as to improve education achievement of children and build basic foundations for lifelong learning. The big idea is to provide field based support to caregivers, teachers, parents and pupils to improve classroom practices as well as teaching and learning processes for ECD and lower primary grades. In this CRC will seek to target lower primary grades (1-4) through three main interventions (i) establishing ECD/basic education resource center for the district (ii) refreshing ECD and lower grade teachers on new reading and participatory teaching techniques (iii) work closely with teachers, parents and local groups to develop low-cost community-own teaching, learning and play materials for ECD centers (iv) mobilizing from publishers and other actors and supplying primary schools with supplementary reading materials and (v) establishing and supporting young readers clubs in local primary schools. These will improve the quality of early childhood development and learning environments in the early grades (first to fourth) of primary education in Bondo and Rarieda Districts of Nyanza Province, Kenya. Working in 5 locations (2 in Rarieda and 3 in Bondo), CRC has started training ECD/lower grade teachers and support improvement of ECD centers and primary schools to meet basic standards necessary for assuring quality teaching and learning environments. The engagement of parents and facilitation of transitions from ECD centers to primary schools are also be key elements of this project.
What makes your idea unique?
Because it seeks to build strong learning foundations and promote smooth transitions between ECD and primary schools among Lake Victoria basin communities in Nyanza, a region where education quality and standards have continued to go down over the years. Evidence show that children who build learning foundations early on, between pre-school and the early grades, are more likely to stay in school, learn well, achieve good learning outcomes and transition to higher levels. This is what we want to help local schools and their children achieve. During this critical period children need to build foundational skills such as reading, writing, and math, which they will use to progressively build knowledge in various subject areas, think critically, solve problems; which in turn will prepare them to make informed decisions in problem solving and tackling issues central to their lives, and build self-confidence and resilience for life long learning. It builds a unique but strong linkage between ECD and primary education.
What impact have you had?
Since inception, 2 years ago CRC has been involved in two main activities as part of this Project of Building Strong Learning Foundations and Promoting Smooth Transitions between ECD and Primary Schools along Lake Victoria Basin in Kenya. (i) Running low-cost model ECD center; - CRC operates a model center for learning, training and demonstrations in Bondo town. This is a child friendly center offering holistic approach to ECD services. The center also serves as training facility for teachers, facilitators, caregivers, parents and other actors on matters ECD. CRC aims to make this center child friendly, well equipped with stimulating environments which have a lot of influence on teaching/learning processes effective for child development. The Center intends to work with teachers, parents and local groups to develop low-cost community-own teaching, learning and play materials or resources for ECD. Currently the center has up to 40 children aged between 2 and 5 years. (ii) Training of ECD teachers, facilitators and care givers; - CRC in collaboration with Bondo and Rarieda District Centers for Early Childhood Education (DICECEs) and Bondo Teachers Training College, has been running a school based in-service (refresher) training programme for ECD teachers and caregivers since December 2008. The trainings are practice oriented and school-based, organized in various modules and delivered in April, August and December (regular school holidays). The first session of such trainings was launched for Bondo district in December, 2008 and brought together 20 teachers/caregivers. And the second workshop was held in April, 2009 at the Center in Bondo town with around 35 participants (teachers & caregivers). Between the two workshops trainers have been able make follow up school or center visits to all the trainees.
Describe the primary problem(s) that your project is addressing.
Unfortunately many children along Lake Victoria basin, don’t build learning foundations in the early grades as they enter first grade poorly prepared (mentally, physically, emotionally) to learn, and schools fail to provide them the environments conducive to learning. ECD or preschool opportunities in the two selected districts are limited and usually of poor quality. Early grades in this part of Nyanza province are usually overcrowded with no teachers and where they have teachers, they are not well trained to teach reading, writing and math. Reading is a key learning foundation that children must build early. Reading skills predict success in school. In Kenya children are expected to be able to read well by third grade so they are prepared to learn subject matter that differentiates progressively from grade four. Very few children make that threshold, and the problem is worse along the Lake Victoria basin. Teacher skills & capacity, teacher-centered methodologies, classroom leadership and management styles, poor reading culture, and weak transition linkages are some of the issues or problems we are seeking to address.
Describe the steps that your organization is taking to make your project successful.
For the project to succeed CRC is undertaking of seeking to undertake the following activities;
Training of ECD facilitators/care givers and lower grade teachers; - CRC in collaboration with Bondo and Rarieda Districts Centers for Early Childhood Education (DICECEs), Bondo District Hospital and Bondo Teachers Training College, has been running a school based in-service (refresher) training programme for ECD teachers and caregivers since December 2008. The trainings are practice oriented and school-based, organized in various modules and delivered in April, August and December (regular school holidays). Between workshops held at CRC, trainers make follow up visits to all the trainees in their schools or centers for assessments, coaching, mentoring and observation of classroom practices. This training will be expanded to include lower grade teachers with focus on reading and participatory teaching techniques.
Development and supply of low-cost teaching/learning and play materials for ECD centers; - CRC will be working very closely with DICECE officers, teachers, caregivers, parents and local groups to develop low-cost community-own teaching, learning and play materials for ECD centers. In particular, caregivers, teachers and parents will be trained on material development for ECD. After the trainings, the groups will be supported to source local materials within their communities and make teaching, learning and play materials. Successful groups or centers will be encouraged to make additional materials for sale to other centers and schools in their areas. There will be a refreshing course or workshop once every term for the groups selected lead material development activities in their centers and schools.
Supplying selected primary schools with supplementary reading materials; - reading is very important when it comes to building strong learning foundations, improving learning achievement and learning outcomes and preparing young children in ECD centers and lower grades for lifelong learning. In order to help children acquire reading skills and to promote reading culture in schools, CRC will work in collaboration with DICECE and the district education office to identify supplementary reading materials fit for children between age 4 and 9. After the identification, then CRC will reach out to publishers to donate supplementary readers to be distributed to schools. A few important tittles which may not be donated will be bought from the project funds.
Establishing and supporting young readers clubs in local primary schools; - sometimes books are in schools, but children don’t have sufficient motivation to read them. For this reason, CRC will seek to establish and support young readers clubs in the 5 targeted primary schools during the project period. The clubs will be restricted to pupils in grade 1 to 4. However, those in upper grades will be encouraged to form their own reading clubs. The clubs will be expected to encourage borrowing and reading of books, ensure safety and care of the reading materials among other functions. Each club will have one teacher serving as a patron or matron. The project will have schemes to organize competitions and give awards to best readers in each school term. Between the five participating schools, CRC will organize inter-school reading competitions, once every term.
Establishing a one stop resource center for basic education materials; - as part of this project CRC will be working towards establishing a resource center on child rights with focus on ECD and primary education reading and reference materials for pupils, teachers, parents and school managers.