Friday, August 27, 2010

Kindergartens to Help Achieve Millennium Development Goal

The Ministry of Education in the west African nation of Guinea-Bissau operates with a very low budget, so low in fact that it struggles to cover much more than teacher's salaries. However, the small village of Gantauda is serving as an inspiring example of what a community can do to further their children's futures.

Gantauda is not only home to the nation's first preschool center, but it has also succeeded in enrolling every child aged 3-6 in kindergarten. Such an accomplishment was achieved through a community based program funded in part by Plan International, a children's development organization. Villagers pay into a joint fund that is used for families who are unable to send their children to preschool, due to financial hardship, and pay 30 percent of the running costs. The Gantauda program then teaches children reading and writing techniques, hones motor skills, and encourages joint learning. It also provides children with a nutritious lunch, clean latrines and is in the process of implementing a basic health care center.

According to data from the World Bank, socio-economic differences effect early childhood development, with those living in poverty lagging behind their peers who do not. The hope is that preschool education will alleviate some of those disparities, enabling all children to go to primary school one day, and therefore achieving a UN Millennium Development Goal.

-Devynn Patterson