Founding Futures (Cecily’s Fund, Zambia)

This report provides an update on the first year of the Founding Futures project at Bwafwano Integrated Services Organisation (BISO) Community School which focuses on early childhood development and education and has enabled pre-school facilities to be developed at BISO and within the local community.

Written by Sally-Anne Saull

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Launched in March 2012, Founding Futures was supported by Brill Kids through an in-kind grant of five Little Reader kits including software, teacher guides and curriculum materials.

Although it is too early to measure overall impact of the new pre-school facilities, the current indicators are encouraging and feedback from the project and the community is positive. The preschool at BISO prior to this project had approximately 26 places for those less than 6 years of age. Since the introduction of the Founding Futures clubs and the renovation of the pre-school structures, the pre-school enrolled a total 106 children from 4 years upwards. The demand is so great that sessions are divided between morning and afternoon enrollments.

On behalf of the orphans and vulnerable children you have supported in Zambia we would like to extend our thanks to Brill Kids for choosing Cecily’s Fund.

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Project Summary

Founding Futures is intended to strengthen early childhood development education in an integrated community setting in Zambia, with strong potential for scale-up and replication. This is aimed at helping the most vulnerable children within the local community to gain access to quality pre-school education and therefore have a better chance of success at school, helping them to become selfreliant in the future. Founding Futures works in close collaboration with the local community, so that solutions are locally created and owned.

As stated above, Brill Kids in-kind grant supported the overall project through the provision of Little Reader phonics teaching resources. Classrooms have also been equipped with furniture, teaching and play resources, and computers and software, which mean that the staff and children can really use the Little Reader resources to the maximum benefit.

Children enjoying lessons in the new pre-school classrooms, October 2012

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Overall Project Development

Community Involvement

  • 16 carers from the local community were trained as Group Leaders (nine women and seven men), who in turn have set up eight Founding Futures Clubs in the community surrounding BISO’s headquarters in Chazanga District in Lusaka. Four of these are for ages 0-3, and four are for 4-6 year olds.
  • 48 community members regularly attend these clubs: 32 for ages 0-3 and 16 for ages 4-6.

Access to pre-school

  • The response to the early childhood programme has been phenomenal amongst the local community. The curriculum delivered at the pre-school follows early childhood development guidelines produced by Zambia’s pre-school association. Currently these guidelines are under review, pending the publication of a full national curriculum, anticipated in 2013.
  • In addition, the 48 community members who have attended community-based early childhood development sessions have in turn started play-based education benefitting 60 families with young children aged up to four years. 16 home visits have been made by BISO staff to monitor the progress of these clubs.

Attendance and attainment

  • Whilst nine months is a short period of time in which to assess the impact of this objective (the end line survey is currently underway), the pre-school achieved an impressive average attendance rate of 78% in 2012. This is higher than the attendance target of 70% for the duration of the entire project.
  • For Grades 1 and 2 in the Community School, the average attendance rate in 2012 was 82% and 89% respectively, in comparison to 77% and 84% in 2011.

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004[pink]Orphan Charlie[/pink]

Orphan Charlie lives with his Grandmother, Uncle and two brothers. Charlie was unable to go to school until this year as he suffered from a head tumour which required an operation. Charlie’s health is much improved and he enrolled in BISO’s pre-school in 2012, aged 10. Due to his illness Charlie has special education needs, but the newly resourced pre-school is helping him to progress and develop his learning. A real character, Charlie is very popular in school – he loves to learn and the new classroom resources have been invaluable for his development.

“I like to learn – especially things that deal with numbers and music.”
Charlie, October 2012
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Community advocacy

  • In combination with the awareness-raising undertaken in a separate grant to mark Global Early Childhood Education Week, local community members have begun to voice their demands for early childhood education provision, and BISO report that demand is overwhelming.
  • Five open days have been held by BISO to introduce the benefits of enrolling orphans in the preschool. The last of these welcomed 150 community members and the waiting list for children to be enrolled in the school exceeds 100. In total over 447 community members attended an open day at BISO, exceeding the end of project target of 280.

Sharing best practice

  • BISO staff members attended a regional conference organized by the Open Society Initiative for South Africa in 2012 and found this to be to be very beneficial.
  • Cecily’s Fund organized a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Workshop in May 2012, as part of its commitment to monitor activities on the ground biannually. Discussions were held with key stakeholders to ensure project mobilization went according to plan, as well as more in-depth consultations about the monitoring aspects of this pilot.
  • Technical support in-country has been consistently provided to BISO’s monitoring officer through a VSO placement (an experienced volunteer hosted by BISO, but managed and funded separately by Cecily’s Fund).
  • Six case studies (see below) have been collected during project mobilization; and we await the results of the end line survey currently undertaken by Mrs Agnes Mando Banda, an ECDE specialist and Head of the Early Childhood Development Education Department at the Open University of Zambia.

Lessons Learned

  • The demand for early childhood development is high – and has far exceeded the provision under this project.
  • Local materials on early childhood development are still hard to come by; discussions with Zambia’s Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority to design bespoke materials are slow in coming to fruition.
  • There is a need for specific early childhood development expertise within the staff at BISO to liaise with regional developments and develop a bespoke advocacy strategy.
  • The need to split the project design between interventions for 0-3 year old and again for 4-6 years and ensure that training of Group Leaders differentiates between these two groups.

 

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[pink]Here I Am…[/pink]

“My name is Sammy. I am a double orphan aged 7. When my parents died I had no hope of school. I treat Bwafwano (BISO) like my father and my mother…

“Today I am able to do read, and do counting using stones and sticks. When I complete school I want to be a Teacher.

“Here I am”.

Sammy enrolled in the new BISO pre-school in 2012[/graybox]

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Project Evaluation

Founding Futures has had a profound impact on the local community. We await the end line evaluation for an objective viewpoint (funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa) on the impact of the project, but BISO reports that demand for the continuation of the project is overwhelming.

Internal monitoring of this project has occurred through quarterly narrative reports and monthly financial reports from BISO to Cecily’s Fund using the system which was already in place between the two organizations. Cecily’s Fund has visited the project four times since it started, to review progress and check on financial compliance. Dissemination of end line survey results will be through civil society partners, the Zambian Government’s Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Local Councils and Childhood Development. This dissemination will happen through the staff and board members of both Cecily’s Fund and BISO, using existing connections.

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“Already I have seen a change in the children!

They are able to concentrate better, which will prepare them for when they go into Grade 1.”

Irene, pre-school teacher, October 2012
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Thank you

Cecily’s Fund, our Zambian partners, and above all the orphans and vulnerable children of Zambia who are better equipped to lead a healthy and fulfilling life as a direct result of your generosity, would like to extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks for the support of Brill Kids.

The grant has been instrumental in ensuring the success of this inspirational project and enabling the Chazanga community to develop a positive culture and capacity for early childhood development. We would be happy to answer any further questions on the project.