The Mother-Child Home Education Programme (MOCEP)

Country Profile: Bahrain

Population

1,046,814 (2007)

Official Languages

English and Arabic

Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) in Pre-Primary Education

46%

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

98% (2005)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

97% (1995-2005)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2005)

Total: 87%
Female: 84%
Male: 89%

Sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleThe Mother-Child Home Education Programme (MOCEP)
Implementing OrganizationMOCEP, Bahrain
Language of InstructionArabic
Programme PartnersBahrain Red Crescent Society, private and public business companies
Date of Inception2000 –

Context and Background

The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago of islands located in the Arabian Gulf and has a population of just over one million people. According to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (2006), Bahrain is one of the fastest growing economies in the Arab World due to the growth of its oil industries (which accounts for 30 per cent of the GDP and 60 per cent of export receipts) and the financial (banking), construction and tourism sectors. Economic growth has resulted in high standards of living for many people since the government is able to fund social amenities as well as to provide social security services. For example, as of 2008, the unemployment rate was about 3.8 per cent but jobless people receive unemployment benefits from the government. Attendance in primary and secondary school is high, due in part, to the fact that schooling is paid for by the government and is compulsory for all children under 15. Because of increased State support of education, the literacy rate in Bahrain rose from 45 per cent in 1984 to 97 per cent and 87 per cent by 2005, for young people and adults, respectively.

Despite these impressive gains in primary and secondary education, most Bahraini children, particularly those from poor families, still have limited access to comprehensive and quality early childhood education (ECE) due to: poverty and limited State investment in or support of ECE programmes (in fact, comprehensive early education programmes are non-existent in the country) and the fact that child participation in pre-school classes is largely seen as a luxury. A study by Hadeed and Sylva (1994) covering the 1989 to 1994 period revealed that about 70 per cent of children under six years old were not attending pre-primary school. Similarly, UNESCO noted that the net enrolment ratio (NER) in pre-primary education in 2005 for children aged 3 to 5 years was 46 per cent which suggest that well over half the pre-school aged population has no access to ECE. Given that limited access to quality ECE has negative effects on child development which, in turn, undermines child performance at primary and post-primary school, The Mother-Child Home Education Programme (MOCEP) was initiated in 2000 to empower poor families to provide early childhood literacy training to their children through a home-based intergenerational literacy training approach.

The Mother-Child Home Education Programme (MOCEP)

The Mother-Child Home Education Programme (MOCEP) has its roots in Turkey where The Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) was instituted over 20 years ago. AÇEV grew out of a research study conducted at Bogazi University that was designed to improve pre-school education for poor families throughout Turkey. AÇEV has been a huge success and is now operating under the auspices of Turkey’s Ministry of Education.

Based on the AÇEV experiences, MOCEP was launched in Bahrain in 2000. Prior to its launch, MOCEP was translated into Arabic and adapted to the local social systems and familial norms in order to enhance its effectiveness. Currently, MOCEP is assisting 200 families per year throughout the country with support from the Bahrain Red Crescent Society and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The latter provides the social centres where MOCEP classes are held.

MOCEP has since evolved into an important regional ECE training centre and is now operating in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (i.e. Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).

Aims and Objectives

MOCEP is an intergenerational educational empowerment programme for parents (especially mothers) and pre-school children living in poverty. The programme endeavours to:

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Overall, the principal aim of MOCEP is to promote home-based pre-school literacy training for children because, as revealed in many studies, children who have access to quality ECE have greater capacity to reach their full educational potential. The use of an intergenerational approach to ECE training is not only intended to empower parents to be first teachers but also to develop positive parental attitudes about education as well as encouraging them to support their children through their education.

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

In order to ensure successful and effective implementation, MOCEP is guided by the following key principles:

Recruitment and Training of Trainers

Programme facilitators or teachers are recruited from their respective Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states but are trained in Bahrain which is the headquarters and official training centre for MOCEP professionals. A published and certified training manual for facilitators has been developed. MOCEP strives to maintain high ECE standards and accordingly, only bilingual (English and Arabic) college graduates are recruited and trained as facilitators. Several facilitators have degrees in social work, psychology, education and business.

Facilitators undergo intensive training which is subsequently followed by an ongoing in-service training programme over a one-year period. Trained facilitators are encouraged to actively participate in the development, design, implementation and improvement of the MOCEP.

Enrolment of Participants

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MOCEP targets entire families but participants should be from low-income, socially disadvantaged families who cannot afford to support their children through pre-school education. Particular focus is, however, on training mothers in literacy skills and in providing pre-school educational training opportunities to children aged between five and six years in preparation for their enrolment in primary school.

MOCEP provides incentives to attract participants. These include free training, transportation to training venues and free material packs. Each family is also assigned a personal professional mentor who not only assists in and guides the family learning process but also ensures that the family does not drop out of the programme.

Training of Participants

MOCEP is an intergenerational, six-month ECE and literacy training programme which primarily focuses on two key areas and components of action:

Mother Support Programme (MSP): A series of weekly discussions and lectures (including planned parenthood discussions) for mothers

Cognitive Training Programme (CTP): Provision of cognitive training materials/activities to mothers so that they can teach their own children literacy at home before their entry into primary school.

The MOCEP teaching approach for the parents (mostly mothers) is dynamic yet structured. Typically, adult participants follow a structured day-by-day programme of activities which they are encouraged to replicate at home with their children (MSP). Various teaching methodologies are used during literacy classes and these include lectures, question and answer sessions, practical group/cooperative activities and discussions on a variety of subjects in child development. Key focus topics include child discipline, health and safety, positive parenting, nutrition, planned parenthood and communication skills.

Apart from classroom-based learning, participants also receive specially designed material packs for home-based learning under the CTP. The packs are intended to promote continuous adult learning as well as to stimulate home-based literacy skills training for children. Home-based family learning is supported and reinforced by trained MOCEP professionals through ongoing weekly home visits to programme participants. The Home Visitation Scheme is the most strategic and powerful tool of the MOCEP because it leads to the establishment of supportive social structures and values for lifelong learning.

The overall goal of the MOCEP through the MSP and CTP strategies is therefore to promote comprehensive and intergenerational literacy skills training and lifelong learning for parents and their children. The ultimate intention is, on the one hand, to nurture functional literacy skills development for parents in order to enable them to have a constructive interest and input in promoting early childhood literacy skills development through home-based learning and care-giving. On the other hand, being intergenerational, the programme is also intended to empower families to improve their lives through the establishment of lifelong functional relationships.

Programme Impact and Achievements

Monitoring and Evaluation

The programme is highly flexible and provides no strict timeframes for participation and does not offer grades to participants at the end of the sessions. The main goal is to enable participants to gain, digest and make sense of the information shared and use it to improve their lives. In light of this, feedback for evaluation purposes is given at weekly meetings. In addition, programme teachers make weekly visits to encourage, support and guide mothers and children during home-based learning sessions. The visits are also used to monitor and assess the learning progress of participants. Generally, it has been observed that children show significant gains early in the programme intervention.

In addition, the programme has also been professionally evaluated, the results of which are contained in a published book: J. Hadeed (2004) Poverty Begins At Home: The Mother-Child Education Programme (MOCEP) In the Kingdom of Bahrain, Peter Lang Publishing. The study critically examines the impact of MOCEP on child development and family relations as detailed below.

Impact and Achievements

The evaluation of MOCEP's impact (2001) was undertaken using a random sample of 96 pre-school children and their families. Another set of 75 families served as a control group for comparison purposes. The study measured the effects of the programme on child development with regards to cognitive, social and emotional competencies as well as its impact on parental attitudes and beliefs regarding childrearing and development. The following were key findings:

CHILD DEVELOPMENT

PARENT, FAMILY AND HOME INFLUENCES ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT

In summary, the research findings provide clear evidence that MOCEP works effectively to improve children’s skills and abilities before they enter primary school and it promotes positive changes in parenting skills and home environments for early learning.

Challenges

Despite a huge demand and great need for literacy training by poor families across the country, to date MOCEP has only served a fraction of the families in need of educational intervention in Bahrain. Each year we are unable to serve all the families that register for the programme due to lack of funding support. There is therefore the need to secure long-term funding from donors and internal income generating activities by MOCEP.

Lessons Learned

Sustainability

MOCEP's long-term survival depends on the reality that ECE programmes are in huge demand in Bahrain since the population is young and growing. Furthermore, State pre-school services remain largely under-developed and children in socially disadvantaged communities have to be taught by their families before enrolling in primary school. In addition, MOCEP has also launched a complimentary programme, the Father Support Programme (FSP) which will be piloted from 2009. The FSP is based on the basic principle that fathers like mothers, play a critical role in child upbringing and development. The FSP is therefore intended to develop the fathers' parenting skills in order to enhance their capacity to foster positive child development. In a nutshell, there are great opportunities for MOCEP to expand. As such, MOCEP has to secure sustainable funding in order to ensure the long-term survival of the project.

Sources

Contact

Dr. Julie Hadeed
Director
MOCEP-Bahrain
P.O. Box 30537 Manama
Kingdom of Bahrain
hadeed (at) batelco.com.bh