Best start for children: alternative preschool home-based and centre-based pilot

In 2017 the Alternative Preschool Project further pursued its dream for the children and communities in Ermera and Viqueque. 60 centres in Ermera and 59 in Viqueque have been continued. This total of 119 preschool centres is comprised of 62 home bases and 60 centre bases in Ermera and Viqueque.  The centres run three days a week from Monday until Wednesday facilitated by preschool trained facilitators with support from parents and School Management Committees. Parents bring their children to the centres and support the facilitators to assist the children in the teaching and learning process.

Our partners, Instituto Matadalan Intgradu (IMI) and Kolegas Da Paz (KDP), together with our team, conducted regular monitoring from the beginning of the year. Based on the modality of program implementation in 2017,   KDP and IMI continued with 4 Field Officers and 1 Program Manager for each organization. The Field Officers visited centres each week to see the progress of preschools and support the teaching and learning process; assisted preschool facilitators to develop teaching and learning activities; developed lesson plans; assisted with how to involve parents, facilitators and school management committees; and, evaluated the progress and challenges facing the centres.

School Management Committees or SMCs include chiefs of villages (Xefe Aldeia) and are an important body that is built into the model to ensure all basic requirements of the school are being met. Their function includes monitoring children’s enrollment and attendance in the community including disabled children; ensuring the implementation of the program including attendance and punctuality of preschool facilitators; attending to school facilities; advocating to the broader community on the importance of education and working towards the sustainability of the community to prepare and recommend the future plan. To increase the SMC’s ability to manage the preschools, Alola and the two local partners worked together to deliver training to 205 SMC members from across Ermera and Viqueque. Most of the participants were people who have influence in their communities.

To raise the awareness of Early Childhood Development and community preschools, and to share the contribution of positive practice from community,  Alola collaborated with IMI and KDP, UNICEF and Ministry of Education to hold meetings with the local partners in Ermera in mid-October and Viqueuque in mid-November. The workshops were leaded by the Ministry of Education’s General Director of Primary School and Preschool and the Preschool National Director.  In Ermera 59 people participated (F: 10 and M: 48) and in Viqueque 21 people participated (F: 4 and M: 17).

The participants were enthusiastic and agreed to increase the collaboration in the future and guarantee the sustainability of Community Based Preschools.

The Alternative Preschool Project is proud of its successes in 2017: children’s literacy, numeracy and ability to use learning resources has improved; SMCs are active in supporting preschools in their communities; parents understand the value of preschool education and support their child’s attendance; facilitators perform well in teaching and learning; communities built 3 new centre based  preschools (Ermera 2; and Viqueque 1); and, 844 (Ermera 391, Viqueque 453) children have graduated and continued to primary school.