Writing about what I’m proudest about for 2016 and our plans for 2017 isn’t easy because there are just so many things I could write! 2016 welcomed record numbers of volunteers and saw members of the team promoted and new staff joining us. We decided each of these special people deserve a blog post in their own right, so it was back to the drawing board. With lots of memories and hopes I decided to pick the one thing that makes my heart sing, and then my choice was obvious – I had to write about the curriculum we are developing for our pre-schools in Swaziland!
There is a relationship between poverty, vulnerability and educational achievement, this inequality is what many organisations are striving to reduce across the globe. So how can a relatively small organisation like All Out Africa make its contribution? Well we assist seven pre-schools, we call them NCPs (Neighbourhood Care Points) which reach about 300 orphan or vulnerable children. The concept of an NCP was advised by UNICEF as it is a way to keep orphan children within their communities as a result of the HIV crisis which has a devastating impact. The idea is that families struggling to look after children (many of whom may be a distant relative) send their children to an NCP where they receive two meals and a safe space to be. Swaziland is now trying to provide some form of preschool education at the NCPs now, because the children attending the NCPs tended to do less well at primary school, they lack basic skills such as holding a pencil, knowing the alphabet or numbers.
So we decided that we must give our children the best possible start in lives by helping them develop the skills and knowledge they need to transition into and do well in their first year of primary school.
Planning commenced and it was soon discovered that our NCP teachers who are local community members needed some help and support with teaching and our own All Out Africa volunteers were willing to help but we’re unclear as to exactly what their role should be.
So an All Out Africa NCP curriculum was born with the aim to aid teachers in the classroom, give volunteers a clear role as an assistant to the teachers and most importantly to give a good and consistent preschool education to our children.
Much research was conducted locally and internationally and qualified teachers assisted in the development of a curriculum. At the end of 2016 one term had been produced and adapted following testing with the teachers. The achievement towards the end of the year was a week of teacher training conducted. We are ready to launch!
2017 will see the two remaining terms completed, more teacher training sessions and a training program for volunteers being launched. We hope to see engaged teachers and focused volunteers coming together to give our children a brighter future and changing lives.
More details about the curriculum will be discussed in a future blog by Eunice our NCP coordinator who has been developing the curriculum and training the teachers. I also want to thank one of our partners, People and Places, for sending us volunteers who helped with curriculum development and teacher training from the very beginning of this journey.
– Sarah Corley
Director, Volunteer & Student Travel