The Hand in Hand (HIH) program has four implementation phases. In each phase the program is implemented simultaneously in 6 highly impoverished counties. The program has two components – early childhood care for children aged 0-3 and early childhood education for children aged 3-6.
Early Childhood Care
To ensure the healthy growth of children aged 0-3, parents and healthcare workers are educated about infant care and child nutrition through a Training of Trainers (TOT) model. In each county, 6 healthcare workers and 6 parents are selected to receive training in Shanghai or Beijing. With an expert’s help in the development of a training plan, these participants then become master trainers responsible for spreading ECCD knowledge and best practices back within their own community. Awareness and guidance materials are also distributed throughout the community via radio and television.
Early Childhood Education
To transform children aged 3 to 6’s learning experience, the project selects a village in each county in which to build an exemplary “child-friendly” kindergarten. Experts from university partners help design small-size classrooms, child-friendly toilets, localized dietary plans, as well as functional spaces including arts rooms and playgrounds to ensure a more participatory, holistic learning experience for children. The design and management of the kindergarten also serve as models to be emulated elsewhere. For kindergartens that already exist in the county, HIH also distributes an “ECCD resource kit” that includes painting materials, toys, keyboards and so on to promote more child-friendly pedagogy in the classroom.
A similar teacher-training model is also designed so that after receiving training from experts, the master teachers in turn train teachers not only from the exemplary kindergarten, but also the approximately 300 kindergarten teachers throughout the whole county. The trainers and experts are also connected through QQ – a popular instant messaging software to facilitate frequent peer-learning.
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CEI approaches in action
The program exclusively builds exemplary kindergartens in poverty-stricken counties.
By the end of 2012, the program has
- Built 15 exemplary child-friendly kindergartens
- Built and supported 850 ECCD centers
- Provided professional training to 9,981 early childhood educators, government officials, and pediatricians
- Trained 598,775 parents and ECCD service staff.
The program was implemented in six additional counties each year.