We use the following approaches to promote early childhood development:
1. Providing parenting education to parents of children under 3 to ensure they have the skills to provide a safe, nourishing, and stimulating home environment.
2. Supporting communities to construct quality Early Childhood Development Centers and manage them effectively so that they offer integrated services.
3. Training pre-primary teachers so that they provide a quality learning environment which prepares children for school.
4. Building the capacity of government institutes to implement their ECD/E policies and aspirations.
Help a Child Rwanda recognizes that parents are their children’s first and best teachers. Parents must be empowered with information and skills to keep their child healthy and respond to their child with loving care. We therefore provide explicit (parenting) education, income generation support, linkages to service providers, and a connection to schools.
The Government of Rwanda has adopted a policy which requires children to complete at least one year pre-primary before entering P1. In the context of rural areas, this policy meets a lot of challenges. Help a Child Rwanda therefore empowers communities to manage ECD centers which provide early learning, health monitoring, and other services to children 4-6 years old. We work in close cooperation with local leaders to train teachers, parent committees, and education officers on proper teaching methods for young children, the importance of integrated services to support all aspects of child development, and basic management principles.
Capacity Building of Teacher Training Colleges
Since 2016, Help a Child Rwanda has supported the University of Rwanda College of Education and Rwanda Education Board to revise the teacher training curriculum to be competency based and reflect best practices in early childhood education. To help tutors implement the new curriculum and be effective role models for student teachers, we develop resources and provide training for tutors from all Teacher Training Colleges nationwide. Help a Child Rwanda has a team of mentors who are on the ground at 3 TTCs to support implementation and transformation of teaching practice on a daily basis. The lessons learned at this level are used to guide the training content and regularly shared with the government and other development partners to advocate for where more investment needed.
Scale up of ECD services
Help a Child Rwanda started a partnership with UNICEF in November 2018 which has enabled expansion of its ECD services. This new partnership allows Help a Child Rwanda to continue parenting education, ECD center construction, and training pre-primary teachers but extended to three new sectors of Bugesera District. This project also involves a new strategy for reaching more preschool-age children called home-based ECD services whereby individual homes are used to host children ages 4-6 during morning hours so that they can participate in similar learning activities to those accommodated at the ECD centers. Three model ECD centers have been constructed and 30 home-based service sites established through the project. Children under three are also receiving parenting education through regular home visits by a trained volunteer. The project runs through November 2020 and is a great opportunity for Help a Child Rwanda not only to reach more children but also to engage more closely with national level stakeholders and advocate for ECD-related issues.