ELIMU Community Light's (ECOLI) early childhood care and development program is distinct in the heavy emphasis it places on community engagement in the provision of ECD services. It encourages this approach in ECD in Tanzania through several areas of programming as following:
Develop pilot models of practice in ECD programs in the community Elimu implements a holistic ECD approach to cultivate minds and build the foundation of humans in their early years so they have the tools necessary to break free of the critical cycle of ignorance, disease, and poverty. In this Elimu is working with five (5) pilot ECD model centers practicing effective participation among ECD teachers, care takers and parents through increase, maintain and sustain participation system that engage schools, family and community towards improving the nurturing of children and learning outcomes. These centers provide a space for young children to interact and develop foundational skills, as well as a place for parents to learn more about the importance of childhood development and children's overall development needs.
Mobile Learning Elimu also applies ‘’Mobile Learning’’ (mLearning) technology by sending educational text messages to guide, remind, and inform teachers, parents, and family members about skills and best approaches to improve children’s nurturing and learning outcomes both at home and in the school environment. mLearning has created a social network, public dialogue, and information sharing forums among ECD teachers, parents, and community members as it is not bound by fixed class times, enabling learning at all times and in all places, or on the go. It has increased access to information and learning opportunities for those who are mobile or cannot physically attend learning forums in traditional educational settings due to the constraints of work, household activities, or other competing demands on their time, so makes ECD knowledge more accessible and enables practitioners to pursue their duties according to their own schedule.
ECD Teachers and Caretakers Capacity Building Program In addition to developing pilot models of practice among ECD programs in the community and using mLearning technology, Elimu provides ECD teacher training through its ECD Teachers and Caretakers Capacity Building program. In this program training courses cover several distinct areas related to early childhood care and development. These include an overview of child psychology, an in-depth teaching of the ECD curriculum, training in community-based early childhood care and development, organization and administrative training, human resource management training, and training in basic health education, national child policy and rights, as well as basic research skills. Once teachers have completed the training course, they are supported by ECOLI to open and improve ECD centers within their communities. Elimu has trained a total of one hundred and seventy one (171) ECD care takers and teachers to date.
Community Engagement Finally, ECOLI seeks to increase awareness at the community level regarding the importance of ECD issues. It does so by encouraging the participation of various community groups, in turn developing a strong social network among the community. Elimu engages community groups and creates increased awareness by running regular parent meetings, facilitating seminars and workshops, and actively promoting grassroots community outreach efforts. Through these initiatives, ECOLI seeks to increase parents' investment and support for ECD both for their own children, and within the community more generally.
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CEI approaches in action
- 4 Masai ECD Community Centers
- 171 trained and certified ECCD professionals
- 400 trained ECD teachers
ECOLI's ECD program has expanded over time to 5 pilot model ECD centers and 4 Maasai community centers throughout Tanzania.
ECOLI also expanded its activities beyond ECD centers, to implement other early childhood care and development programs including an Integrated Community Based ECD program, and an ECD Teachers and Caretakers Capacity Building Program.
The mlearning program has expanded from 317 beneficiaries to 510 including ECD teachers and parents.
The Early Childhood Development Program plans to reach 9000 beneficiaries including 150 teachers, 4300 parents, and 4850 children at preschools through grade three in public pre-primary and primary schools by 2016.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Elimu Community Light aims to develop a precise and accurate assesment tool for parents, teachers, and children at different grade levels. The Result Based Management (RBM) system, and its tools including Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) and Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) will be used as the monitoring and evaluation mechanism throughout the project cycle from planning through implementation. It will enable us to plan and readjust our activities based on the anticipated outcomes and respond to the needs of the findings. The system will also help us to plan our program with the end in mind and focus on the achievement of results and real change, rather than just the completion of activities. The M&E plan will include:
1. Baseline and end line surveys (results shared)
2. Track and document project progress and changes
3. Undertake information sharing on the lessons learned and create pathways for effective achievement
All of the graduates from ECOLI's first group of students passed their primary school test and continued on to secondary education.
More than 1,000 ECOLICU students have enrolled in both governmental and private primary schools.