Early Childhood Education Programs
Our community partners, in discussions with parents and traditional leaders, identified increasing educational opportunities as their highest priority. Unfortunately, there are not enough public schools in the area and most face significant funding and staffing challenges. To help more children attend school, we built and operate two early childhood learning centers. Today a team of six teachers are educating over 400 children from pre-K through third grade.
In 2022, we are excited to begin construction of our third early childhood learning center, Tahama. Tahama means hope in the local Dagbani language. The center will provide an opportunity for 200 more children to attend school. Teachers will use an environmental educational curriculum, which we believe will be the first of its kind in the region. When completed, the Tahama Learning Center will have garden, rainwater catchment, solar power, and tree planting projects.
A daily lunch is provided at each school to help increase childhood nutrition. Lunches are prepared by four women from the local community whose children attend the schools. This is one of the most expensive components of our program as food prices have risen significantly with Covid.
Each student receives a school uniform every year. These uniforms are sewn by graduates of our vocational training program who opened a small business in the community. When possible, students are also provided with a pair of shoes.
Each of our learning centers has a large school garden, where students learn to sustainably grow food and also engage in fun, hands-on learning activities. A recent graduate of our vocational training program has constructed stools to create an outdoor classroom in the gardens. The gardens are approximately 1.5 acres in size. Community members volunteer to help plough, fence, and plant before the rain season. Harvested food is used for our school lunch program to help increase nutrition.
Each early childhood learning center has a boys and girls soccer team. After school players are coached in soccer, teamwork, and physical fitness. This is also a great way to practice English language skills. Sometimes siblings who are not able to attend school join the teams. Both coaches are graduates of our youth scholarship program.