Early Childhood Development Initiative

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Early Childhood Development Initiative: Stopping Violence in Schools

Timor-LesteDili, Timor-Leste
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project provides comprehensive vocational training including early childhood development techniques, positive discipline, child protection and first aid to early childhood educators, or those planning to become educators, benefiting thousands of children with quality early childhood education.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if children were not beaten at school but were meaningfully engaged in learning through participatory child-centered approaches?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Timor-Leste even preschools use rote teaching strategies and copying from blackboards. According to the government’s National Education Strategic Plan 2011-2030, many teachers have weak pedagogical skills and a limited understanding of learner-centered methodologies. Moreover, the majority of preschools are deficiently equipped, use an obsolete curriculum, educators and care providers are inadequately trained, and violence and abuse are rife.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This project is developing quality early childhood education in Timor-Leste through the training and mentoring of educators. Thus far the project has equipped more than 150 educators with the knowledge and skills required for child-centered and participatory approaches impacting over40 preschools across Timor-Leste. Furthermore, increased educator awareness of non-violent discipline strategies and child protection, contribute toward preventing the use of violence against children. Education materials are also provided to complement the teaching the teaching strategies. Due to the fact that early childhood is a crucial stage of human development, ensuring quality education will allow Timor-Leste to have a more prosperous and engaged society.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Walking into a preschool classroom you see children sitting in a row staring blankly at their teacher who is writing on the board; this is the only way the majority of teachers know how to teach in Timor-Leste. Currently educators lack awareness on participatory methods for early childhood education and do not have knowledge of how to teach literacy leaving the majority of children unable to read one word after first grade. Exposing educators to participatory and child-centered methods of educating young children is a simple but transformative way of helping educators work towards maximizing the positive potential of their role. Also, providing educators with positive discipline skills helps to reduce the use of harmful punishment practices

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In the last year and a half 150 educators have passed through our training programs from across 5 districts of Timor-Leste. These trainings are designed to improve the quality of early childhood education, helping to make it more child-centred, focused on learning through play, and participatory. There is also a focus on nutrition, first aid, child protection and positive discipline to equip teachers to improve the lives of their students. Through pre and post surveys, we found that percentage of educators who reporting being able to implement learn through play strategies in the class increased from 56% to 100%. Qualitative feedback from the trainees also found that they were able to organize their preschool into key learning areas, learn about applying the concepts of classroom management and play-based learning, and how to apply positive discipline when children misbehave.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The next stage of the project will work to develop a sequential series of literacy and numeracy materials to be used in a training and mentoring program to equip educators (those from stages 1 & 2 of the project) with the skills to become effective teachers by providing them with the knowledge and practice to skillfully plan and implement literacy and numeracy programs. Moreover, the sequential series of readers will be used with hundreds of thousands primary students in schools across the country through a partnership with the Ministry of Education for the printing and distribution of books.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Ba Futuru undertakes a continual process of fundraising from a variety of streams including government, foundations, corporations, awards and individual donors. We also are supported through fee-for-service theater performances and training workshops, and have fee-paying students at our Early Childhood Education Facility, as well as scholarships for low income and at-risk children which help to sustain this element of the program.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The government of Timor-Leste in 2012 announced that it would prioritize preschool education, promising to provide 50% of children with preschool education by 2015, nonetheless insufficient government funding has been made available for building additional preschools, developing materials and training teachers to make this a possibility. Thus, Ba Futuru’s project complements the efforts of the government by supporting their new Early Childhood Curriculum with books at their request. Furthermore, the project will help train educators who will later staff the governments new preschools.

Founding Story

In Timor-Leste children are beaten every day in homes and schools. I first become aware of this right after coming the country. I would paint with kids in my backyard and one of them often came with bruises. Over time I found out he was regularly beaten and afraid for his life. This was one of the main experiences that inspired me to start Ba Futuru. One of Ba Futuru’s key thrusts is combating violence against children. We have developed a training curriculum and resource materials on child protection and positive discipline for use in schools. We have also provided training for parents, police, teachers and community leaders that enhances their knowledge and skills, equipping them to positively impact the lives of children.


The team has several qualified national and international staff including the American Co-Founder with a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration on post-conflict education, the International Early Childhood Education Specialist who has more than 25 years of experience working in preschools in Australia, a Timorese Project Coordinator with experience in Australia, two Timorese Teacher Trainers and an Australian speech pathologist.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, DI, Dili

Country where this project is creating social impact
What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses.


Ba Futuru, the organization running the project, has received two awards in 2011 and 2013 for its protection work from the STARs Foundation (UK), and one award for Outstanding Leadership in Conflict Resolution from the Association for Conflict Resolution (US).

Primary Target Age Group

3 - 5.

Your role in Education


Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Intervention Focus

Professional Development.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Equip Adults to Drive Change in Learning: Providing creative learning experiences for teachers, parents, working professions and others that empowers them to drive change in any part of the learning ecosystem.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Whole child development is undervalued: Essential parts of development get left behind as children get older, such as healthy habits, executive function, and social and emotional learning.


In Timor-Leste many teachers resort to physical punishment to discipline children and the use of rote instruction is predominate


Child Protection Training Manual / ECE Manual

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

Teachers will be equipped with child protection and positive discipline skills to stop the use of violence as discipline
Teachers will understand the importance of holistic education and be equipped with key teaching strategies including child-centered approaches and participatory teaching practices

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

Ten days of early childhood education and protection training (~8 hours each) for educators across five urban and rural districts of Timor-Leste carried out by Ba Futuru’s talented Timorese facilitators, which is followed by mentoring support sessions and follow-up surveys to gauge longer-term acquisition of knowledge and behavior change.

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

I am inspired by technological innovations for children to engage more actively in learning complex concepts. For example, the Creator Lego series teaching children about science and creativity, and aps for phones and tablets through which children can teach themselves to read and write, even in developing areas where no educators are present. I believe the world is progressing well down a positive path of re-imagining learning, my hope now is that disadvantaged children in developing countries will have more opportunities to access and experience these innovations.

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

Learning through play is essential as it provides children with the opportunity to interact with each other and build their capacity to learn and engage with their world. While playing, children fully engage multiple senses increasing brain function and enhancing memory so that their bodies and minds can retain and build upon these experiences. The knowledge they gain through play interactions builds gradually as their play develops together with their abilities. Through play they are able to blossom into children that can relate well in society and interact positively.

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

2013 funding (new and carried forward income) was broken down to approximately 6% from individuals and fee for service, 8% from international non-governmental organizations, 19% from foundations, 44% from governments, 1% from awards, 18% from corporations, 2% from the UN, and 2% from universities.

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

Ba Futuru’s mission as a non-profit organization is to prevent the use of violence and to provide vulnerable people with skills for Timor-Leste’s development. This project works to educate teachers and parents: on child protection to prevent them using corporal punishment reinforcing cycles of violence: and on early childhood education to empower children with a positive foundation for their future – both of which support our mission.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

To provide training and mentoring for 25 educators focused on early childhood education, child protection and positive discipline so that these educators have the capacity to provide quality participatory child-centered learning having long-term positive impacts on the lives of thousands of children

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

Ba Futuru collaborates with the Ministry of Education by providing training for teacher trainers, and in the provision of materials for the curriculum reform process. Ba Futuru also has partnerships with partner NGOs, enabling us to have better access to rural areas. This allows us to provide training programs to greater numbers of teachers and parents in Timor-Leste, thus impacting the lives of many more disadvantaged children.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

Not yet, but we have gained some good ideas from them.

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

All Timorese children are in preschool and participating in play-based learning. Schools are equipped with in-door and out-door educational equipment, and well trained teachers. Learning materials are on the walls and Duplo are the hands of students building creatively together. Classroom set-up encourages child-centered learning and children are confident, creative, engaged, stimulated and well prepared socially & emotionally for success in life

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

Before the training 33% of educators could list nonviolent strategies for disciplining children, after 81% could. Before the training 17% of educators could describe how to implement ‘learn through play’ strategies, after 83% accurately describe these. (To Improve) Currently in TL 70% of children cannot read 1 word after the end of first grade, where as in our preschool before leaving pre-school 90% of students can already read more than 1 word.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

0 to 500

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:


Number of Volunteers:


APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Physical Play, Play with Objects, Symbolic Play, Pretence/ Socio-Dramatic Play, Games with Rules, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Providing a Range of Opportunities (providing the equipment and materials needed for various types of play), Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts), Adults Participating (Ensuring adults are able to play alongside children), Challenging Play (play that disrupts - where rules are disregarded and levels of imagination are high), Other (please specify).

Other (please specify)

Dramatic and Imaginative Play

AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.

We buy Duplo and Legos for use in our preschool and afterschool programs.


Kristin Eno (not verified) /

I am very excited to stay posted as you move forward on this important mission. I am grateful to have learned about Timor-Este and its education, but also saddened. It's so hard to do authentic education reform when cultural differences are so great. I think it's crucial that you are living there and getting to know your students and their families. That will make all the difference.