The Nhaka Foundation is a non-profit organization that works in primary schools to develop effective, innovative and holistic Early Childhood Development programs. The program targets orphans and vulnerable children aged 0-8 years from low-income, rural communities by facilitating access to quality ECD. Through the program old and run down classrooms are renovated and equipped with appropriate child size furniture in order to create a clean and safe environment for the children to play and learn. The program also supports playground construction, school feeding, health assessment, teacher and parenting training and a psycho-social support initiatives. Training programs are carried out for teachers, caregivers, parents and the general community to manage and run the ECD centers and care for their children.
The program model is based on the challenges that have confronted the uptake and acceptance of ECD by parents across the country, which include:
- Distances from the ECD centers - Many ECD children have to walk several kilometers to get to school and this places a high caloric burden on children who do not have access to enough food already adding to the nutritional deficit many children face. Parents thterefore often elect to keep younger children at home.
- Negative parental perceptions about ECD, including a lack of safety in terms of poor or non-existent classrooms; untrained teachers (daycare vs. learning); no need for / unfamiliarity with the benefits of ECD; and a lack of involvement of the community
The entry point of all intervention is through the classroom renovations and outdoor playgrounds where a clean and safe learning environment is created, conducive to learn and play in. The follow-up programs are designed specifically to facilitate retention of children in ECD classes as well as to ensure their transition from ECD to infant education right through to completion in grade 7.
The Teacher Training program ensures that teachers know what and how to teach and treat children at ECD level. The feeding program is ensure that children have all the nutrients they require in order to concentrate and have the energy to play. In the communities targeted, most children survive on less than two meals a day meaning a large number have to go to school and walk long distances on an empty stomach. The health program was introduced as a tool to establish a baseline for the children undergoing the feeding program and to monitor their growth and development on an ongoing basis. All these programs can only continue to work and be sustainable with the support of the communities. Parents are engaged on a continuous basis in parenting meetings and workshops while close relationships are established with community leaders who have a direct interest in their wellbeing of the inhabitants of their areas. This open communication with parents and the community allows for buy-in in the ECD program and they then become avid supporters of any programs the organization seeks to implement.
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CEI approaches in action
The organization has established relationships with the District Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Office.
The ECD program is used as an entry point in order to implement other programs in the communities. Community engagement also helps in establishing how effective the programs are.
The teacher training programs and classroom observations are a way of determining whether the training is effective or not.Through community partnerships the partners on the ground are able to give any updates on issues directly affecting the communities of particular families that may directly impact the children.
The program implemented initially was a sponsorship program in order to address the high number of out of school children. With the challenges identified in the 3-8 year age group the focus of program implementation shifted to early childhood development and creating a holistic program that will support the growth and development of children at ECD level.
After successfully implementing programs in Goromonzi in 7 schools the program will be replicated in the Domboshava side of the district where we seek to implement similar interventions.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Currently internal reporting systems are in place. Monthly, Quarterly and Annual program and organizational progress reports. Data from the field is captured and recorded in report and pictorial format.
The organization would like to move towards a system where a M&E is in place that can be used by the organization to show evidence of the impact of the program. Engagements have been made with a local university, the Women's University of Africa to develop a practical M&E tool for the organization.
Health Assessment Data
- The data is collected in order to determine whether the children are growing and developing as they should expecially in light of the feeding program going on at the schools.
- It involves physical examination of the child, biographical information of the child and general observations of the child
- Number of pupils who ate during the day, those who did not eat, and the reasons why
- The number of pupils present, absent or sic,k and the reason why
- Number of children enrolled at the school, where they come from as well as their ages.
- Number of pupils enrolled per grade by gender