6 Ways Nations Around The World Are Supporting Early Education Beyond Online Classrooms
Even though we have turned our attention to online learning platforms for a long time now, there is little doubt that the pandemic has caused massive disruption in the education sector. The dent is perhaps felt the most in early childhood care and education across the globe.
A UNICEF Research brief reports that over 40 million children worldwide have been impacted due to critical preschool education’s unavailability.
While a lot of successful online learning depends on students’ technology skill sets and teachers’ technological abilities, young children are most affected because of their limited experience and access to online learning tools. Additionally, effective learning on their part requires adults’ availability and involvement, which is another impediment for early education.
For online learning to translate into effective learning, the changes need to radiate into other aspects of the ecosystem that support their learning, especially early childhood education. It predominantly includes the parents and family.
Here are six examples from across the globe that show us how it can be done:
1. Setting up health platforms for appropriate messaging
Prioritization of preventive health, especially for new mothers, young children, and even parental health, represent the needs of the hour. This takes even greater significance for mental health counseling and the immunization routine. According to the UNICEF, Mexico shows us how to integrate health messaging on their Government platforms to reach their people.
2. Educating the Caretakers
Exposing children to books is the key to early learning and literacy, but that is unlikely to happen if the parents are not informed correctly. Providing the right information for parents to engage their children with storytelling and reading is crucial. In Kenya, the EMERGE Reading Program supported by World Bank distributes books, learning, and play materials through community resource drop networks along with accompanying materials for parents.
3. Leveraging the promise of supporting resources
In many parts of the world, parents are not motivated to send their children to school due to harsh living conditions and a lack of knowledge. Many Governments have been successful in rallying children into education by providing social safety nets for their households. Madagascar’s cash transfer program is a successful case-in-point where parents and families are provided with vital income support through cash transfers that only happen when they send their children to school. The initiative is also being extended to the distribution of food, soap, books, and early learning kits.
Leaders in countries like India have revived the radio platform with the hugely popular ‘ Mann Ki Baat’ for regular messaging on education and cultural issues.
4. Leveraging Media, especially Social Media
Mobile penetration is very high in low and middle-income countries, and the reach of social media platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp is exceptionally high. Many Governments are using social media platforms to amplify messaging by creating support networks. The government of the United Arab Emirates uses its Instagram account to provide parenting resources during the pandemic.
5. Providing Child-Care and Psychological support for frontline workers
Frontline workers in many countries like health professionals, food producers, vendors, and shopkeepers have lost their childcare options through the pandemic. Prioritizing childcare support is a key game changer in workers’ mental health status who provide frontline support. Many countries are also providing psychosocial support to help frontline workers cope with fatigue. A good example to follow would be Burkina Faso’s model of formalized childcare that would work with local partners to provide tools and services for childcare, meeting the needs of frontline workers.
6. Adapting Nutrition programs
A meal per day is a big draw to bring and keep children in school. India’s mid-day meal program was the single most successful program in boosting school attendance and adapting school feeding programs to deliver food directly to communities, starting simple nutrition programs. A great example is the Jeevani Milk Program that simplifies nutrition education by providing simple ingredients like milk and other micronutrients that have shown big results.
The pandemic is a great starting point for better outcomes through greater cooperation between communities across borders. The digital era is truly a time for going beyond physical borders and assimilating great lessons. It’s time to leverage this digital gift, and what’s a better time than to start in the early years?
Kidskintha is hosting the World Early Years Summit 2021 with a mission to bridge the gap between parents and educators. Join us. It’s FREE.
About Devishobha Chandramouli
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha – a global parenting and education collective, and the host of the global virtual conferences hosted on the platform, one of them hosted in collaboration with UNESCO. You can also find her voice on the Huffington Post, Mother.ly, Entrepreneur, LifeHack, TinyBuddha, Thought Catalog and many other publications.
Follow Devishobha Chandramouli on Twitter @kidskintha
- Kidsintha – World Early Years Summit 2021
- UNICEF – Children cannot afford another year of school disruption
- Literacy Daily – Together Apart: Fostering Collaboration in a Remote Learning Environment