Community Learning Centres and Parenting Education
For Early Childhood Education Project in Samoa
Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood education (ECE), especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, is the first of the six Education for All (EFA) goals. However, it is one of the most neglected goals, with very low public funding allocated to this critical foundation of lifelong learning in many countries. As part of the Japanese Funds-in-trust project “CLC Equivalency Programme and Lifelong Learning to Reach the Unreached”, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) aims to help improve the quality of non-formal ECCE by supporting parenting education practice offered at community learning centres.
Samoa was one of five countries chosen from the Asia-Pacific region to take part in the initial baseline survey to explore current practices and needs of parents relating to early childhood education and parenting practices. Results from this survey were used to develop two draft handbooks, a generic parenting education guidebook and a facilitator’s handbook. UNESCO Bangkok invited representatives from the five countries, including Samoa, for consultation and feedback on the draft books which were then finalised and printed.
Both books have since been translated into Samoan by translators in the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture in Samoa and trialed among parent groups in both Upolu and Savaii. Representatives from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture have provided training for facilitators on both islands and supported the trialing of the parenting education programme through Community Learning Centres.
The emphasis of the training in Samoa highlighted the theme of ‘Your child, your responsibility, your accountability’ (O lou alo, o lau matāfaioi, o lou tofi). The trainers were promoting the message that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that children are loved and cared for in order to grow up feeling safe and happy in their environment getting the best possible start for their future. The participants will later become facilitators in their own communities. A facilitator from the Ministry of Health in Samoa was used to deliver the training relating to health and nutrition for young children and babies. All those who participated with the initial training sessions were pleased with the books and are keen to get started. The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Health in Samoa are committed to supporting this parenting education programme.
Currently (October, 2012) the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, with support from UNESCO Apia, is producing a short video to accompany the translated parenting guidebook and facilitator handbook that will reflect local cultural values.