Malawi Early Childhood Education
Capital for Good USA was awarded a grant by a major university to develop an early childhood development program in rural Malawi. In Malawi, only 27% of children have access to early childhood education: preschools are located primarily in urban areas, leaving children in rural areas without access. Additionally, many mothers do not have the opportunity to earn an income because their time is fully consumed by childcare.
The program sought to give children in rural areas the same opportunity as their urban counterparts to fully develop their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive potential.
Capital for Good brought together more than 100 churches in four districts of Malawi (Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Karonga, and Rumphi) to form 16 consortia. These churches were able to provide space which was otherwise unused during the week, making it available for child-centered activities. Together the consortia established 128 early childhood development centers, or preschools, which offered instruction, learning materials, toys, and even a healthy daily meal.
The program recruited and trained nearly 400 caregivers from the communities, who underwent a 13-day residential training by accredited government trainers using the approved national curriculum. These volunteer caregivers were paid only small stipends but benefited from a livestock distribution program to help them generate personal income.
On their own, the caregivers in numerous consortia came together to form a village savings and loan fund, where their contributions served as a pool from which members can obtain loans that would otherwise be out of reach due to lack of collateral. Additionally, four maize grinding mills were installed to generate revenues to support the financial needs of running the centers, as well as provide the food for the children’s daily meals.
More than 10,000 children were enrolled in the centers over three school years. These preschoolers received foundational learning skills which equipped them for primary school, and they even experienced improved health due to the nutritious daily meals. Meanwhile, parents reported having more time to tend to their farms and other earning activities due to the availability of the centers. Although Capital for Good’s work concluded at the end of 2015, the consortia continue to operate the early childhood centers in their communities as a result of the program’s sustainability measures.