09.12.2013 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Big Push workshop to accelerate early childhood care and education in Africa


Among the 19 African countries that have joined the Big Push Initiative to accelerate Education for All, four countries have chosen to focus on boosting early childhood care and education (ECCE).

They are Angola, São Tomé & Principe, Swaziland and Zambia.

Other countries (Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia) have also voiced their interest in this important area that is extremely important to prepare young children for school and learning.

To assist these countries a training workshop will take place from 9 to 13 December 2013 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

"We want to familiarize the participation countries with existing training modules on indigenous early childhood care and education, and develop a roadmap for the way forward," says Zulmira Rodrigues, education coordinator at UNESCO's Regional Office in Dakar.

Current efforts neglect cultural context

Seven training modules based on research results have been produced by the UNESCO Institute for Capacity-Building (IICBA) and partners. The modules form the IECCE model, which provides tools, skills and resources to people working with vulnerable children and their families. One of the fundamentals of IECCE model is that local and indigenous children are to be educated within their cultural context.

"Today we know from evidence that the type of ECCE programmes currently being operated in many African settings are neglecting the cultural values and practices of their societies," says Rodrigues.

The IECCE modules are living documents with a goal to build capacities among, inter alia, parents, older relations in the households and extended family members, elders in the neighborhood, older siblings, including helpers and interested stakeholders who can read and write in their local language.

The learning can therefore be home-, community- or institutional based.

"The aim is to develop more socio-cultural and economic modalities of early childhood care and education" adds Rodrigues.

Timid progress in Africa

Early Childhood Care and Education is having a hard time in Africa. Only a little more than one out of four African child aged between 0-8 get a chance to attend some kind of pre-school activities. But the situation differs enormously between countries and region. According to 2010 data the situation is as follows:

  • In Southern Africa (SADC), early childhood enrolment stood at 45% on average
  • In East Africa (EAC), only Kenya and Tanzania achieved above 30% level while the average went up to 27%.
  • In Central Africa (ECCAS), despite the fact that pre-primary enrolment has more than doubled, the average has only reached 26%.
  • In West Africa (ECOWAS) (with the exception of Cabo Verde and Ghana), progress has been more timid and rates (19 percent on average) and well below the average of 28% in sub-Saharan Africa.

This training workshop is the result of combined efforts by IICBA, UNESCO Dakar, UNESCO Windhoek, The Ministry of Education of Burkina Faso, The national Commission for UNESCO of Burkina Faso, CIEFFA, OSISA, UNICEF Uganda and Plan International.

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