Nhaka Foundation News

A case for increased ECD investment in Zimbabwe

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Early Childhood Development: A case for increased investment 

Reference is made to the recent Zimbabwe National Budget Statement presented by Hon. P.A Chinamasa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on the 7th of December 2017. As a staunch advocate of increased investment and expenditure in early childhood development, I noted with dismay the reduced investment on the same by the Honourable Minister.

The first years of life are important, because what happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime. It is now common cause that learning starts in infancy, long before formal education begins, and continues throughout life. Infact at the World Conference for Education for All held in Jomtein, Thailand in 1990 it was widely adopted that “Education begins at birth”. The year 2000 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Prof James Hackman argues that “early learning begets later learning and early success breeds later success, just as early failure breeds later failure.” Thus success or failure at this stage lays the foundation for success or failure in school, which in turn leads to success or failure in post-school learning. Recent studies of early childhood investments in the developed world have shown remarkable success and indicate that the early years are important for early learning. Moreover, early childhood interventions of high quality have lasting effects on learning and motivation.

Reading through the budget statement one gets the notion that the State would want to relegate this responsibility to parents and communities. Whilst parents are indeed the child’s best teacher, there has to be a formalized way of ensuring that the gains that the previous administration were beginning to make in this sector are not lost. It would be foolhardy to think that some of the comprehensive strides made by the previous head of the education ministry should be thrown away. Zimbabweans have had various issues to raise against the former minister and rightly so, however I must hasten to say that there was some great work done in order to position the country as a regional model in the provision of early childhood development services in the country.

Over and above the ECD curriculum and teaching standards mentioned by the Finance Minister, Zimbabwe needs to develop and adopt a comprehensive Early Childhood Development Policy that will ensure standardization of service provision and ensure our young children are wholly supported. Indeed parents and communities have provided the backbone supportive services through engaging as para-professional teachers and as community caregivers this still needs to be buttressed by a policy that addresses play material, furnishing of ECD classrooms, pedagogical methods and renovation or construction of ECD classrooms.

Hon Finance Minister, paying salaries for qualified ECD teachers should indeed be a priority for the government if we are to move towards the “New Economic Order” No one should be left behind, children should in fact be at the forefront as they access what they need to grow to be responsible citizens of the nation and the world. Let not this burden be placed on the parents again, let the government begin to invest more in this, because the long term gains are there and research in this area has proved it time and again. Indeed there are multiple economic returns for the case of investing in Early Childhood Development that Zimbabwe will be able to reap. Whilst I understand the need to be prudent with available resources, also missing from the current budget for is consideration of priorities or recognition of the need to prioritize early childhood development. Unfortunately, in an era of tight government budgets, it is impractical to consider active investment program for all persons. The real question is how to use the available funds wisely. The best evidence supports the policy prescription: invest in the very young and improve basic learning and socialization skills.

If we are to move towards a “New Economic Order” then we need to quadruple the amount of money allocated to ECD. As a country, we cannot afford to postpone investing in children until they become adults, or even wait until they are in Grade 1 or 2, we need to start earlier. We cannot leave this to a time when at times it may be too late to intervene.

Patrick Makokoro

Founder

Nhaka Foundation

AdministratorA case for increased ECD investment in Zimbabwe
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World Food Day 2017 commemorations

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Nhaka Foundation celebrates World Food Day in Partnership with Unilever Zimbabwe

Unilever Zimbabwe through the Knorr brand will commemorate the World Food Day on 16 October 2017 in the Goromonzi District of Mashonaland East Province. The Zimbabwean celebrations are part of a Knorr Global Initiative under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which seeks to encourage consumers to contribute in feeding the needy.

Along with its partners, Nhaka Foundation provides access to education, basic health care and daily sustenance for children in the communities it serves. It provides aid and support to ensure the creation of a physical environment conducive to learning, growth and the optimal development of all children.

Please follow the campaign, like, share and retweet by clicking on any of the below social media icons…and remember #ShareAMealZw #Nhaka@10

 

                                                        

 

#ShareAMealZw                        #Nhaka@10

 

AdministratorWorld Food Day 2017 commemorations
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Highlighting Nhaka Foundation @ 10

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At Nhaka Foundation we believe all children should have access to quality education in a conducive learning environment regardless of one’s background or community. A good early childhood classroom environment is one that meets the child’s basic needs, supports and encourages children to engage in various learning and play activities.

Visit our Nhaka Foundation Facebook page and enjoy the 4  short episodes highlighting some of our work and partnerships.

Celebrating Nhaka Foundation @10

 

AdministratorHighlighting Nhaka Foundation @ 10
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Transitioning from Early Childhood Development to Formal Education

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Since October 2016, Nhaka Foundation in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) has been implementing a pilot project to improve the transition of children from the early childhood development program into primary school. The project is called Transition of Early Learners into Formal Education (TELFE) and is aimed at educating teachers and parents on the importance of access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) program and transition of learners through teacher trainings and parenting meetings. During the project ECD and Infant school teachers have been receiving training on methods that promote retention and facilitate smooth transition for children into infant education. Through this project children have been able to access services such as health screenings, nutritional wellbeing as well as child protection.

In addition, coordination, collaboration and networking has been enhanced among partners at district and community level. The project is being carried out in 30 primary schools in the Marondera and Goromonzi districts. The project is building the capacity of primary school teachers and reaching approximately 7,200 children attending early childhood development classes up to grade 3 of primary school education. Most importantly, the project is expected to reduce the dropout rates of children attending primary school in the designated districts. This will offer children from poor and hard to reach families in rural areas of the country with equal rights to education.

Under the Transition of Early Learners into Formal Education (TELFE) project and working with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education  (MoPSE) district ECD and education officers we conducted three trainings for the ECD teachers, teachers-in-charge (T.I.C) and grades one to three teachers from the thirty schools identified for the TELFE project in the Goromonzi and Marondera districts in May. The trainings were well attended with a lot of teachers expressing their appreciation on the course content and its relevancy. A total of 17 schools received teacher trainings and 87 teachers participated in these trainings including T.I.Cs.

 

           

AdministratorTransitioning from Early Childhood Development to Formal Education
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School Nutrition Gardens way to go

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In February 2017, we covered the vegetable beds with a blanket of cattle manure kindly provided by the community. This would ensure a continuing living, fertile medium for all the fresh fruit and vegetables to come. Volunteers from the community worked tirelessly at preparing the vegetable beds, spreading compost, and planting those first seedlings of, onions, tsunga, viscouse, rape and green pepper. Nhaka Foundation’s commitment to this effort was to provide the freshest vegetables to the Early Childhood development (ECD) program pupils as well as grades one to two learners school feeding program.

One really amazing thing is that a number of our vegetable beds were planted TWICE, while several beds saw (3) crops. Proper plant selections contributed to that success. In May 2017 the Self-sustaining Nutrition Garden project at Munyawiri Primary School proved to be the best ever in the 3 months of its existence. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown. From the community point of view, one of the most important benefits of having the school nutrition gardens is easy access to low-cost, healthy, nutritious produce for learners. The Munyawiri Nutrition Garden Project has helped the school to feed more than 250 pupils including vulnerable learners, at the same time strengthening community food security, improving nutrition, and helping balance family food budgets. We believe that the gardening also nurtures self-esteem and leadership skills among both community members and students. Through their hands-on skills on the nutrition garden project, communities build locally based food economies that emphasize social health, environmentally sustainable practices, and economic strength through their food production. Thus this movement promotes retention of children within the school system and also sets the stage for improved nutrition and health for the children, which is fundamental to improving education.

Team Nhaka is hoping to make the nutrition gardens in months to come better yet. Over the next several months together with the volunteers we will be creating a plan… deciding what to plant, when to plant it. We will refine that rotation plan in preparation for the hand-over of the nutrition garden to the school and the community.

Wilbert Marimira

Field Officer

Nhaka Foundation

 

 

AdministratorSchool Nutrition Gardens way to go
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Education Matters!

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By Patrick Makokoro

Last month, I returned from a whirlwind tour of the U.S. As the Founder and Director of the Nhaka Foundation in Zimbabwe, I work to give hundreds of kids every day the opportunity to experience early childhood education. On my tour, I was an advocate for millions more.

Why does an early education matter? Children start to learn the alphabet. They learn shapes and sounds. They begin to develop fine motor skills like cutting and folding. They enter the world of numbers. These opportunities are their right, but I don’t take them for granted. When I was young, I didn’t have the chance to learn these essential skills. My own children laugh at me sometimes because I have trouble telling colors apart, like burgundy and red. I think many colors look the same. My children already know better because their education began early. I am still catching up, and probably will be the rest of my life.

This is why I’m so passionate about funding early childhood development programs.  Every child around the world deserves to learn these basic skills at an early age. Their brains are incredibly flexible, with neural connections developing hundreds and thousands of times faster than adults. It’s a crucial time for their development. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is doing amazing work funding these opportunities for children. It is a powerful multilateral partnership working to fund education in the world’s poorest countries, inviting international donors to invest in their plan. It brings foundations, governments, organizations, and private donors together around a single purpose. We must continue to push our governments around the globe to fund it.

I went to the U.S. to do a media tour about the GPE. I traveled to 11 cities, from Houston to Topeka, meeting with RESULTS volunteers and their local media outlets to explain the power of education. I shared my story, hoping the editors would recognize the importance of this opportunity for the U.S. to fully fund its portion of the partnership. They responded with nine media hits about the GPE, including 5 newspaper editorials. “By giving children an education, GPE is giving them a chance,” (The Topeka Capital-Journal). “The United States can and should hold up its role in the world to promote education,” (Hutchinson News). Other outlets included The Mercury, The Ottowa Herald, and the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

I was honored to meet with these editors and volunteers, and I take these experiences back with me to Zimbabwe. I look at my little children and I’m grateful that they know more about colors than I do. I want every child to get started on their education early in life, when it matters most.

Education Matters!

Patrick Makokoro

June 12, 2017

AdministratorEducation Matters!
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