In Barouéli, children have traditionally started school at age six, but with the construction of the new Early Childhood Development Centre, pre-school is now available to children at age three, and that will make a big difference in their learning and their lives. But some parents, who don’t have the benefit of education themselves, are hesitant to send their children.
After meeting with local mothers to discuss the issue, we determined that offering school meals would meet a real need for both families and children and work as an incentive to increase school enrolment, while also contributing to child health and learning.
Now the centre is offering a daily lunch for children and the response from parents has been fantastic. More parents are enrolling their children, and once they do they are seeing right away the positive difference that early childhood education makes to the development and happiness of their child.
Mariam, a local mother who works as a teacher’s assistant at the preschool, has seen first-hand just how effective this program has been at bringing in new students and bringing parents around.
“As soon as the news of the school meals spread in the village, a parent approached me to enroll his child. In reality, his only wish was to have his child benefit from the school meals, but over time he has realized that there is so much more that the Centre can offer. He has become much more interested in his children’s education.”
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