Feza is six years old. She’s been coming to a community-run Early Childhood Care and Development Centre in south-western Rwanda for the past two years.
With the support of Save the Children, Feza’s community is running a centre where children aged three to six can come for several hours each day.
A safe place and a better start
A specially trained caregiver runs activities designed to improve young children’s developmental skills (cognitive, language, socio-behavioural, and motor skills). This serves the dual purpose of preparing children for primary school, and providing a safe place for them to play while their parents work.
Feza’s father, Jean-Baptiste, says there is a marked difference between children who have attended the centres and those who haven’t.
“When our children have been to the centres, they arrive in Primary 1 prepared to learn; the other children have huge difficulties in adapting from their previous lives of tending to animals or just hanging around”.
His older son, Louis, also attended a centre a few years ago – he’s now nine and is always among the top performers in Primary 3 – Jean Baptiste is convinced that the early exposure to learning is still paying off.
Laying the first building blocks
“It is not only what they know – it is also their behaviour and attitude” Jean-Baptiste continues, “Feza’s time at the centre has taught her to be organised. She even copies her elder brother when he’s doing his homework, and she shows us the songs and dances she learned that day”.
Save the Children trains caregivers so they can facilitate activities to help children use some of the building blocks they’ll need at school – letters, numbers, colours, etc, through playful songs and dances.
By making learning fun, Save the Children hopes to encourage children and parents in the positive value of education.