ESD IN ECCE: SHAPING A SUSTAINABLE LEARNING FOR AFRICAN YOUNG CHILDREN. OMEP – UNESCO Participation Programme- World Presidency team

In 2022 World OMEP together with the Vice Presidency for Africa and the National Committees of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria submitted a project on Education for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood Care and Education in Africa for the UNESCO Participation Programme. Financial support was granted. The project started in August 2022 and will be ending this December.

The UNESCO Participation Programme complements UNESCO’s regular activities by supporting , evaluating and facilitating the implementation of national, sub-regional, inter-regional and regional projects submitted by Member States and NGOs (UNESCO, 2023). 

The “ESD in ECCE: shaping a sustainable learning for African young children” project especially addressed three Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) during its planning and implementation: SDGs 4.2, 4.7 and 4.c. These SDGs are related to a quality ECCE, sustainability and teacher qualifications.

“ESD in ECCE: shaping a sustainable learning for African young children” has four aims:

  1. Empower stakeholders to provide quality teaching & support children’s sustainable development as change agents. 
  2. Create a more inclusive method of improving the learning outcomes of children from low income / poor families. 
  3. Create a positive school climate to enhance quality play, through active engagement with low-cost resources and access to competent teachers and play workers. 
  4. Encourage cultures of sustainability through training of educators on how to re-create resources in their environment to support children’s play, learning and development 

To achieve these objectives four main strategies were defined: 

  1. Training teachers and educators currently working in ECCE services in themes related to early-childhood, pedagogy, play and sustainability
  2. Elaborating resources and providing materials
  3. Developing local projects 
  4. Monitoring the progress of the projects

The combination of these four strategies has been fundamental to the impact of the project. Not only did the teachers and educators acquire new skills and knowledge, but they had to use them in the institutions and communities. They had to mobilize what they learned, they could see how it transforms their students’ educational experiences and they could share them. By supporting and monitoring the development of local projects OMEP helped teachers and educators on multiplying the positive impact of the planned actions.

While the World OMEP strategic plan defined ESD in ECCE as the general scope, and the Regional Vice Presidency coordinated the project, each National Committee presented its own action plan for their country considering their own challenges and needs, and their experience and expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. This allowed the design and implementation of five different projects that both considered the specificity of each territory and built on the special feature of the National Committees.

The National Projects

Burkina Faso – Educators training in pedagogical material development

The project aims to improve the quality of ECCE in 28 private Stimulation and Education Preschool Centers (SEPC) located in the city of Ouagadougou by ameliorating their pedagogical resources. The educators will learn how to develop pedagogical resources with recycled materials to be used for quality play.

Cameroon – Change through eco-development and play

The project focuses on children becoming change agents for development based on the resources of their environment. Through eco-development, change and play it will teach children to behave, understand and move in their environment. 

OMEP Cameroon chose to work with 7 schools located in two departments: Kadey and Faro et Déo. Within these communes, two specific villages were chosen: Batouri and Sabongary. They decided to work in this area as they are both vulnerable rural zones, being part of the most forgotten regions of the country and also ones of the most needed of aid.

Ghana – Grow what you eat

“Grow what you eat” seeks to educate pupils on recycling and waste segregation, its importance, the impact and the effect it can have on the environment and on local communities. By teaching and having the pupils repurpose the waste, they learn to care for their environment and become agents of change. This project attempts to draw attention to the alarming statistics of unsafe means and unsustainability of current food production systems in Ghana.

The 5 participant schools are located in the Greater Accra Region, in two cities: Accra and Tema. They decided to work with urban schools so the children can learn and understand how food is produced. This way, they expect children to have a deeper appreciation for the farmers’ work, and also increase their knowledge on the process involved in planting and harvesting, and also on how the plants look like.

Kenya – Toy Library

Since 2018, OMEP Kenya Toy Library has worked to safeguard all aspects of early childhood education and care (ECEC), including the right to play. The Toy Library is located in Kibera Constiruency, Kibra Sub-County. A toy library is a high impact, cost effective, non-centre based programme that gives children, their families, early learning facilitators and ECD practitioners access to a collection of carefully selected educational play materials, play sessions and training on how to use the toys to promote development. 

During a mapping done in 2022, they identified 32 formal and informal ECD centers, all of which are under-resourced both materially and in human resource from which they decided to work with 15 for this project. The schools are located in 2 cities (Nairobi and Machakos) from 2 counties (Nairobi and Machakos). 

Nigeria – ECE in ECCE: activity based low cost, no cost initiative. From waste to experiential play, learning & development.

The general objective of the project is to enable all children regardless of class, culture, environment or family background to gain access to quality education. The HighScope Active Learning strategies have been infused into the implementation process of the project. 

To achieve its objectives, OMEP Nigeria designed three main activities: the development of quality content and modules, the training of carers, education practitioners, parents and the children, and creating awareness about creative and sustainable use of waste materials for instructional resources, play, among other relevant themes. They also planned on opening a Play/ Toy and Training Centre in Lagos State.

The project was initiated in 2017. By September 2021 OMEP Nigeria had trained a total of 769 educators. 739 were from the Nigerian states of Lagos, Ondo and Kaduna, and they extended the scope of the project to Kenya by training 30 educators in Nairobi.

Since August 2022, OMEP Nigeria kept working on training more educators. They held three training programmes. The first one, between August 24th and 26th, was in Ikeja, Lagos State where 172 educators participated. 

Between October 19th and 21st, in Ibadan, Oyo State during OMEP Nigeria’s National Conference they trained 250 educators in the ESD, low cost training programme. 

Further publications about this project will follow soon, to give more details about the project and its completion.

The World Presidency team, made up of Camila Hirsch and Maria Clara Radunsky, coordinated globally, the OMEP’s project initiative of the UNESCO Participation Programme, together with the regional coordination of Vice-President for Africa Nyamikeh Kyiamah. Local Education for Sustainable Development projects were designed and implemented in 5 African countries.

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