Assessment of the benefits of early childhood care, development and education provided by Non-Governmental Organisation in Rural Areas: A case study of Chibombo District in Central Province of Zambia

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Kaneneka, Phyllis
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In 1990, the Education for All EFA movement was launched at the World Conference in Jomtein, Thailand. At this conference, 155 countries and 150 organisations agreed to universalise primary education and massively reduce illiteracy by the end of the decade. The EFA movement focused on the need to provide learning opportunities for everyone in the world, from infancy to adulthood UNESCO, (2006). With the introduction of the EFA movement a globalisation of early childhood development took place, with a much broader emphasis on holistic development of the child Marfo et al, (2004). It was for this reason that governments and Non Governmental Organisations NGOs have been committed to providing basic education for children, youth and adults from all over the world. One of the these NGOs is Plan International, whose vision is of a world in which all children realise their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity. Plan is active in more than forty developing countries across Africa and it promotes children’s rights and their lifting out of poverty. Zambia is one of the countries in which Plan operates in. It supports poor children especially in rural areas through the establishment of Early Childhood Care Development and Education ECCDE centres in communities where these children live. It is for this reason that this study assessed the benefits of Early Childhood Care Development and Education provided by Non Governmental Organisations in rural areas looking at Chibombo District.The quantitative data were analysed using programmed excel spread sheets to generate frequency tables and bar charts. The data collected from qualitative questions, focus group discussions and interviews were analysed and coded according to merging themes. The results were used to establish what the benefits teachers and parents got from ECCDE centres provided by NGOs in rural areas.The key findings were cited by almost all the respondents, who agreed that the services provided to ECCDE centres were beneficial to rural children, teachers and parents. These benefits were in terms of:(a) Improved retention and completion rates(b) Reduced dropout and repetition rates(c) Reduced absentees(d) Increased interest in learning. And many more benefits cited in the document such that respondents wished the program could be extended to all parts of the district so that all children in the district had the same type of educational foundation which was firm and acceptable.The overall conclusion was that it was possible for communities and basic schools to establish ECCDE centres in their catchment areas so that all the children who enrolled in regular schools would have ECCDE background and enter school with a firm foundation. It was also realised that the MOE has not been able to support the works of the NGOs may be because of the policy document which was not yet in place.The recommendations are made to stakeholders in the education sector and the government. These are:-(a) The Ministry of Education through Cabinet office should finalise the ECCDE policy.(b) The Ministry of Education should support the efforts of the cooperating partners in the provision of ECCDE in rural areas as stated in the National Policy document. Educating Our Future.(c) The Ministry of Education should send the trained preschool teachers to ECCDE centres.
Early Childhood Education-Zambia , Child Care Services-Zambia