According to UNESCO, Zambia’s primary school enrolment rates currently exceed 90%. However, estimates suggest that less than one in five students entering primary school has any early childhood development (ECD) experience. Across Zambia, enrolment in ECD services varies widely, with ECD participation rates in urban Lusaka and the Copperbelt province surpassing 40% while rates in rural Eastern, Western, and Luapula provinces remaining below 20%. Unfortunately, in 2013, the rate of young children attending any form of early childhood development program was 14.8% across the country. Because these children do not have any early childhood development experience, they are less likely to be prepared to enter formal schooling and do not have the same level of cognitive development compared to children who do have ECD experience.
Because the need for early childhood development programs is so great, the CCAP Synod of Zambia began the Early Childhood Development Program in 2015. With the help of the Early Childhood Development Coordinator, Diane Cusick, the synod monitors nine Early Childhood Centres in Lusaka, seven of which are attached to CCAP community schools and two of which are attached to CCAP congregations. Across Zambia, there are also various other ECD centres, some attached to congregations and one attached to a CCAP primary school in Northern Province. The purpose of the Early Childhood Development Program is to build the capacity of young children so that they develop to the best of their potential. Therefore, the program trains teachers and committees in the concept of early childhood development as well as monitors and evaluates the Early Childhood Centres.
The ECD Program not only focuses on helping young children achieve in formal schooling but also plans on making the program self-sustaining in the future. The program implements sustainability practices, encouraging teachers to use everyday items (such as used plastic tubs, bottle caps, screws, etc) as learning materials. This encourages students to be innovative and supports a play-focused learning environment. The program also plans on using income-generating activities that will ensure the longevity of the program. To date, in order to educate more people about the benefits of early childhood development programs, the ECD Program Coordinator has begun sensitising church leaders to ECD curriculum in Lusaka, the Copperbelt, and Livingstone. The coordinator has also begun teacher training programs in Lusaka and plans on training the ECD Centre Management Committees in how best to use early childhood development to help children succeed. In the future, the synod would like to establish a model ECD school in Lusaka that will provide strategic direction and guidance to other ECD Centres in the Copperbelt and even Eastern Province. Ultimately, the CCAP Synod of Zambia Early Childhood Development Program will grow and continue to provide education and support to developing ECD centres. These centres will provide necessary guidance in order to nurture the children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and language development.
Status: The CCAP Synod of Zambia currently seeks funds to support the sustainability of the ECD Program’s efforts.
Early Childhood Development
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