Striving for quality & accessible early childhood learning for every last child in Rwanda.
By Elysee Niyigena
On World Children’s Day, 1,409 children graduated from Save the Children supported pre-primary.
Kigali, Rwanda, 20 November 2017 - “I’m very excited for having graduated today. Mama told me I will go to a new school in primary one. I can’t wait,” says ecstatic Jean Mucyo, aged 5. He was only 2 when his family enrolled him at G.S Rubona Centre in Ngororero district in the Western province of Rwanda.
Nestled between steep, terraced hills and sweeping views of emerald food crop fields, Ngororero is arguably one of the most beautiful and serene places in Rwanda. Offering cozy scenery, green shrubs, Ngororero district is also one of the poorest districts in Rwanda, with extreme poverty incidence at 23.5%.
In the past, women with babies and young children struggled with child care when they went to work on the plantation. Local authorities in Ngororero adhere to strict child labour laws, and as a result, children are not allowed on the fields/plantations. With limited options, mothers would often leave their children unattended at home with no food or in the care of other young siblings.
In 2015, Save the Children (SCI) started implementing Early Literacy Initiative (ELMI) in Gicumbi, Bururera, which was scaled up to Ngororero and Gasabo districts in 25 pre-primary schools for children aged 2-6. The ELMI approach has two components: school based and home based.
As part of the school based approach SCI trains pre-primary teachers, equip classroom libraries with toys, books and other materials, to improve children’s learning environment and provides a monthly incentive for pre-primary teachers.
For the home based approach SCI offers training on positive parenting, focusing specifically on how parents can support their children at home in their daily lives. The core aspect of Early Literacy and Math, is to promote school readiness for pre-primary aged children to ensure they have the necessary skills when they enter formal primary schools in Grade 1.
“Through our partnership with Save the Children, we want to see that children between the ages of 0 to 6 years are well looked after while their mothers can work happily in the plantations,” said Patrick Ndamyabera, Sector Education Officer of Ngororero district.
Philippe Adapoe, SCI Rwanda Country Director, echoed the importance of early childhood development. “Investing in children early is a golden opportunity, and what better way to invest early than to start with the parents and families that raise them.”
SCI partner with the Government of Rwanda, which is committed to increasing access to early childhood development services for families and children, including those in Ngororero and Gasabo Districts.
Rwanda’s Early Childhood Policy emphasizes prioritizing parenting skills whereby every family becomes the primary institution through which quality optimal care of and early stimulation can be provided.