Early Childhood Development in Melut, South Sudan
Similar to pre-schools we have here in Ireland, Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers ensure the protection, wellbeing and holistic development of children from an early age. They start children on their learning journey from a young age, both academically and socially, helping them advance into primary school and deal with conflict related stresses they may face. ECD centres are a safe place for children to learn, socialise and play.
Akuol Yai is the mother of Ayak; she and her family were displaced from their home by the conflict that started in South Sudan in 2013. They now live in Dingtoma Internally Displaced Person (IDP) Camp in Melut, Upper Nile State. Through awareness raising activities she quickly learned about the benefits of sending Ayak to the ECD centre, from academic learning to protection and social development.
With a specific focus on early childhood development, the children begin to develop their learning skills and emotional awareness. The children participate in outdoor games, drawing and art, psychosocial support (PSS), recreational activities, cultural song/dance and storytelling, basic alphabet learning and numeracy. Teachers and animators are trained on basic education skills, PSS, basic life skills, childcare and ECD management, equipping them with skills to teach and interact with children who have been affected by conflict and displacement. The volunteer teachers are also trained on child protection issues and work closely with the community child protection committees that work to keep children safe in their communities.
Abuk Deng, Mother of Nyantiok Babil, who attends the ECD centre in Dengtoma 2 IDP camp, is happy she was encouraged to send her children there.
Akoul’s dream and hope for all her children, including Ayak “is to finish their education to the highest level and get a good future life”. Similarly, Abuk hopes her child is “a better person in future, which I am always encouraging her to go to school to complete her study, when she becomes educated she can do positive things and help me, our community and herself in the future”.
In 2017, World Vision trained 40 ECD teachers and established 8 temporary and semi temporary ECD centers across 3 Internally Displaced Camps in Melut; some 2,406 children were enrolled and actively participating in play and learning activities. After one year of enrolment at the ECD centres, there was a 10% increase in the number of boys and girls able to express themselves with confidence.
These ECD centres are part of a wider multiannual Education and Protection programme funded by Irish Aid, under which World Vision is working with communities and local councils to build the resilience of conflict affected women and children so they can better cope with the shocks and stresses they face.
With thanks to the support of Irish Aid and the Irish tax payer, World Vision is helping mothers like Akoul and Abuk make their dreams for their children a reality. Together we can create a better world for children.