The early childhood workforce is absolutely critical to scaling up quality services for children and support to caregivers and families. Yet tremendous gaps in context-relevant training, materials and other resources for child centered frontline workers present significant obstacles.
For this reason, AfECN has created the ‘improved practice’ program work stream to identify critical gaps in existing services and to design strategies to address them. The focus in the coming months will be to continue ongoing efforts aimed at enhancing the availability and effective utilization of training materials for early learning programs that are relevant at the local level where they are needed — in particular, through local knowledge and context specific consultation and review.
As part of these efforts, in January AfECN held a two-day meeting at the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa offices to review and validate the Child Centered Classroom Resources Kit. The Kenya meeting was part of a much larger process of ensuring the relevance and applicability of the kit in specific contexts. As part of this process, over the past couple of years, ECD educators from Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have reviewed a draft of the kit. For further learning, the kit was then piloted in Lesotho and Mozambique prior to the January meeting. The meeting specifically sought to provide an opportunity for ECD trainers and practitioners working in Kenya to provide further inputs.
Reviewed components of the kit from the January meeting are now in the process of being edited and taken through an additional validation session with a wider range of stakeholders from across sub-Saharan Africa before full implementation. The final review meeting will be held in partnership with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa Intercountry Quality Node for ECD (ADEA- ICQN ECD). This meeting will bring together ECD experts from across sub-Saharan Africa to not only provide final inputs and validation but also to develop an ECD Workforce Development Strategy
The kit includes a training manual, a guide for developing play and early learning toys, and equipment and activity books. The process has been a particularly meticulous one, not least because outcomes for children clearly depend on well-supported, empowered, trained and resourced early childhood workers.
‘The greatest investment a country can make in improving child outcomes is investing in the caregivers closest to the child,’ Aster Haregot, an AfECN board member noted. She continued, ‘I am excited that workforce development is a key part of AfECN’s strategy and I particularly look forward to seeing systemic improvements to support parents, health workers, teachers and child protection workers.’