Numerous studies have shown that a child’s formative years, from birth to eight years, are critical for cognitive, physical, social, emotional and language development. Investing in the first years of life is key to developing children who are confident and creative learners, active problem-solvers and socially responsible members of society. In 2003, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) started an ECD programme based upon these principles.
AKF builds upon local strengths and identifies critical gaps related to the care, development and education of young children. Our long-term goal is to enhance and promote the well-being and opportunities of children and their caregivers.
AKF is strengthening the capacity of frontline health, education and social protection workers for holistic and play-based learning in ECD centres, in addition to the capacity of government at local and national levels for holistic ECD. This includes regular training, coaching, exposure visits, best practice sharing and assessments.
AKF also promotes an understanding of the importance of ECD amongst parents, caregivers and other community members to create demand for quality ECD services and pathways for meaningful community engagement and parent support programmes. In 2021, we reached 462 parents and caregivers.
Before the crisis, AKF played a facilitating role in the establishment of a national ECD Networking Group. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, the ECD Programme provided input towards developing the first draft of a National ECD Strategy. It also provided technical assistance to the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs.
The ECD programme also undertook the professional development of selected ECD supervisors, trainers and managers. Through a series of related training sessions and continuous follow-up, AKF facilitated building skills and competency in the areas of management and supervision in early childhood programmes. Thirty kindergarten managers and supervisors working for the Women’s Federation and Ministry of Education attended the training programme.