The first five years in a child's life are crucial in shaping their future. Planet Aid helps bolster the development of young children through preschool initiatives in Mozambique and South Africa and through support of Step-Up Centers in India.
India’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, but the country also has an extraordinary number of out-of-school children. At least 35 million children between the ages of five and 14 do not attend school. Rather than obtaining the education they need at a formative time of intellectual growth, they work as rag pickers, manual laborers at construction sites, or elsewhere in the informal sector. Many arrive in the urban slums from outlying areas with their families, hoping to grasp the promise of India’s rising economic wave. Because their families have no official residence in the city, often living in little more than a makeshift tent or box, these children are prevented from formally enrolling in a mainstream school.
Planet Aid supports children in northern India through its Step-Up Centers. These academies provide access to education for children who are forced to work due to economic circumstances and are therefore unable to attend formal schooling. This two- to three-year program enables youth to complete their elementary school education through grade eight, either through classes offered at the Step-Up Cebter itself or by re-entering the mainstream school system.
Step-Up Centers also actively work to mobilize local communities, train youth in basic computer skills, and assist children in enrolling in mainstream education when possible. In 2015, over 2,000 students were enrolled in Step-Up Centers, with 169 of those students moving on to formal education afterwards. In order to prepare pupils to switch over to mainstream education, the program offers innovative curriculum comprising of Hindi, Mathematics, Science, and English, along with government school curriculum and extra-curricular activities.
The staff at Step-Up Centers work to make the program a success for children by not only offering quality lessons on a flexible schedule, but by also raising awareness and mobilizing parents, local school teachers, and educational authorities to work together for the sake of the children. The staff also organize events in the children’s communities, such as clean-up actions, and ensure that every child receives the individual support they need.
Previously, Planet Aid helped support the Dell Youth Connect Center in Gurgaon, sponsored by Dell Global Giving, as part of Dell ‘s worldwide “YouthConnect” program. The main center in Gurgaon and its three satellite facilities provided IT training to disadvantaged youth.
For more information on other Step-Up Center programs, see the Humana People to People India website.
Early childhood development has a profound effect in shaping the course of one's life. Many countries do not have a nationwide preschool system in place, which leaves children at a disadvantage when it comes time for them to enroll in primary school.
Planet Aid supports preschool initiatives in South Africa and Mozambique that reach populations typically without access to early education.
70 Preschools in Maputo
The 70 Preschools in Maputo is a 2.5-year pilot project financed by the World Bank and implemented by Planet Aid–partner ADPP Mozambique and the Mozambique Ministry of Education in two districts in the Maputo Province: Boane and Manhiça. The project is part of a larger pilot initiative implemented simultaneously by various agencies in five provinces across the country.
The main objective of the 70 Preschools in Maputo project is to strengthen the capacity of rural families and communities to promote the holistic development of children under six years of age through the provision of community-based Early Childhood Development (ECD) services. The project accomplishes this by raising awareness among parents and community members about the importance of early investments in child development and healthcare for the healthy growth and development of their children.
By building 70 preschools, training the teachers and facilitators, and engaging local communities in participating in the ECD initiatives, the project will contribute to laying a foundation for community-based ECD services and providing a model that can be replicated on the national level across the country.
The project is based on the government strategy for the integrated development of preschool children, which aims to promote Early Childhood Development among children under six years of age and prepare them for enrolling in primary education, thereby improving their academic performance and overall quality of life in the long run.
Preschools of the Future Movement
There is an increasing need for quality and affordable preschool education for South African children from disadvantaged backgrounds aged two to five. Planet Aid's sister organization Humana People to People South Africa is working to open preschools for these populations through the Preschools of the Future (POF) Movement. Working with the national Community of Practice (COP), a forum made up of various organizations and institutions involved in Early Childhood Development, the POF was able to remain abreast of all regulatory frameworks and trends. A preschool in Mangangeni is already serving local families, and more sites are being scouted in targeted communities for additional schools.