Early childhood education, the equivalent of pre-school, prepares the children for grade 1 of primary school.
Since 2017, the Nai Qala Association has launched an education program that is already transforming some remote areas in Afghanistan. The program focuses on an inclusive and pluralistic approach towards education by providing quality pre-school experiences to children. The early childhood education lays emphasis on the holistic development of children and making parents and families realize the importance of early childhood education in their children’s lives.
The program is designed to provide an expanded range of experiences for young children helping them to develop skills and form attitudes that will enable them to make good use of learning opportunities both within the class and later formal education. A trained teacher leads the children in story-telling, counting, writing, singing, playing, learning the local language and practicing good hygiene and sanitation behaviors like handwashing or teeth-brushing. Boys and girls are encouraged to spend time and play together, without segregation.
Preparing the new generation
An independent study commissioned by the Aga Khan Foundation and undertaken by McGill University in 2014 demonstrated the important role that pre-school education is playing in children’s school readiness and learning, in Afghanistan.
Early childhood education is organized in partnership with the Afghan ministry of education and is fully embedded in the national curriculum and the National Education Strategy Plan. It is rooted in the universal target of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals that state “by 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”.
By proposing new education opportunities, children from rural and remote Afghanistan can work towards realizing their full potential.
Special training for local young students
A new dimension has been added to our engagement in the regions where we have built schools: we are now providing early childhood education classes to improve the quality of education for young children aged 5-6 years. The pilot project started in July 2017 and lasted 6 months. It involved two groups of children (36 girls and boys) in two shifts of 2 ½ hours each morning and afternoon. The children come from 60 families in two villages. Two local young university graduates received a special training to lead the class
The big success of the pilot and the very positive feed-backs from children, parents, teachers and the community prompted Nai Qala association to continue the pilot, and extend the program to other villages. In 2019, Nai Qala is supporting 25 classes in the provinces of Ghazni and Bamyan.
Nai Qala is committed to continue to plant seeds of hope in those remote and isolated regions.