While Zambia and Uganda have made significant gains in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) in recent years, they continue to face many challenges. Access to ECDE is limited, especially among marginalized and rural communities. The ECDE workforce lacks adequate knowledge, skills and attitudes to implement play-based approaches. Learning environments to facilitate play-based learning are lacking; and coordination among key stakeholders such as parents, teachers, school administrators and communities need to be improved. The School Readiness Initiative (SRI) is an early learning system that involves home, school, and community to support holistic development of children and prepares them for a smooth transition to school.
The SRI has been implemented in two provinces in Zambia and holds promise for promoting quality early childhood education that prepares children to be ready for primary school, and schools to be ready for children to provide them age-appropriate learning experience and environment. This project will build on lessons learned from the SRI and strengthen it through wider stakeholder involvement. Its overall objective is to strengthen the capacities of schools, communities, and early education systems to adopt play-based learning to promote children’s holistic development and prepare them for their smooth transition from preschool to primary education.
The project will carry out a thorough review of play-based learning in the ECDE curriculum frameworks of Uganda and Zambia and design an enhanced learning framework for ECDE including the identification and development of contextually relevant learning materials with the involvement of teachers, parents, and children. School administrators, parents, teachers and ECDE teacher educators will be trained on its implementation; and data on implementation collected using action research, workshops, conferences, observations, interviews and reflective journal writing. The project will address issues of gender imbalance in the ECDE workforce, in which women dominate, despite having little or no formal training whether it is as teachers or caregivers. The research team will work closely with officials from the Ministries of Education, regional, district, and local community education officials in the two countries throughout the project period.
This project will be implemented by a consortium led by the Zambia Open Community Schools in partnership with the University of Zambia and Makerere University (Uganda).