Rawdati project: Access to quality Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) services
The project in brief
The project is implemented by Plan International in Jordan. It began in June 2018 and ended in October 2020.
The Theory of Change (ToC) underlying the Rawdati project is that boys and girls aged 5-6 from Syrian refugee and host communities in Amman, Zarqa and Irbid governorates of Jordan will be better prepared for a successful transition to grade 1 with the improved provision of quality kindergarten program and increased access to a quality accelerated kindergarten program. The project addresses the key barriers and gaps that prevent young boys and girls from Syrian refugee and host communities from accessing quality kindergarten.
This was achieved by working towards the following three outcomes:
Outcome 1: Aimed to increase access to safe, gender-sensitive Kindergartens (KGs) for girls and boys aged 5-6 years old.
Outcome 2: Aimed to Improve quality of learning environment at established kindergarten (KGs) for girls and boys aged 5-6 years old
Outcome 3: Aimed at girls and boys aged 5-6 years without Kindergarten KG experience to prepare for smooth transition to first grade.
Elements that helped facilitate the project included:
- Implementation of project interventions in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education (MoE), community-based organizations (CBOs) and the private sector was key.
- Collaboration with two Educational Technology (EdTech) companies, Lamsa World and Ustad Mobile. The EdTech companies were selected from the 2017 Humanitarian Accelerator for Refugee Education, an initiative of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Initiatives and Dubai Future Accelerators, hosted by Dubai Cares, to leverage the use of innovative technology to improve Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD) provision in emergencies contexts.
- Direct aligned with Plan International’s Gender Transformative Approach, aimed at tackling the educational issues in vulnerable groups with a clear eye and understanding of gender inequality, and addressing unequal power relations.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Specific key activity areas implemented under each outcome are as follows:
Outcome 1: Increased access to safe, gender-sensitive KGs for girls and boys aged 5-6 years old
- Establishment of 10 Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD) committees at central and field level
- Conducting a community mapping and assessment of kindergarten KG provision in targeted areas
- Carrying out community mobilization sessions and identification of vulnerable girls and boys to be enrolled in kindergarten 2 (KG2)
- Establishment of inclusive and gender sensitive kindergarten 2 (KG2) learning spaces by increasing the number of kindergarten (KG) classrooms
Outcome 2: Improved quality of learning environment at established kindergartens (KGs) for girls and boys aged 5-6 years.
- Supporting the Ministry of Education (MoE) to roll-out and monitor the comprehensive teacher training program and in-service training on gender-sensitive teacher and learning approaches, in private and public Kindergarten (KG)
- Provision of inclusive and adequate teaching and learning materials to classrooms, psychosocial support and recreational education
Outcome 3: Girls and boys aged 5-6 years without kindergarten (KG) experience are prepared for smooth transition to first grade.
- Identification of vulnerable girls and boys to be enrolled in the School Readiness Program (SRP)
- Teachers training to deliver and implement the School Readiness Program (SRP) for children entering first grade without kindergarten experience
- Provision of school kits for 2,000 children participating in School Readiness Program and Ministry of Education standard School Readiness Kits for classrooms
- In-service teacher training to 80 Grade 1 teachers, provision of recreational kits for Grade 1 classrooms to support learning activities, play, games, music, arts and other creative activities.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- Situation with COVID-19 global pandemic and country lockdown restrictions.
- While the Jordanian government responded readily by rolling out distance education through online, TV and radio platforms, it has done so only for primary, secondary and tertiary education. Kindergarten and other forms of early childhood education were deprioritized leaving young learners with no opportunity to continue learning during COVID-19 crisis.
- Another challenge that has been addressed was reaching Syrian children in KG living in the host communities, due to their difficult economic situation, tend to move around a lot to find work, and therefore not enroll their children in kindergarten, or if they are enrolled, they don’t stay long enough in order to be able to finish the academic year. In addition, Syrian children attending Ministry of Education schools must do so in the second shift of the day. The challenge is that only certain schools are offering double shifts.
How they were overcome
- While there were changes to the implementation modality of kindergarten and School Readiness Program to be delivered remotely in response to the COVID-19-related school closures, the nature of these activities did not change. Project team quickly pivoted and continued providing services through adapting a new remote implementation approach e.g. online working group on (WhatsApp) application, School Readiness Program and curriculum that was delivered remotely, including piloting the use of the Lamsustad app.
- In response to this gap, the project identified innovations that will help children continue learning. It leveraged the mobile phone and WhatsApp technology to continue to reach parents of children enrolled in kindergarten programs, provide them guidance and learning materials so that they can facilitate their children’s learning at home. This type of support continued until the end of the school year in June 2020. As school closures persisted in the summer months, the project also innovated on the delivery of the school readiness program from face-to-face to online/offline learning using tables frontloaded with educational materials. In so doing, the project collaborated with the Ministry of Education to transform the School Readiness Program (SRP) into e-SRP, developing self-instructional modules, translating these modules into electronic forms, uploading content on tablets and mobile phones and training teachers on the use of these tablets. Teachers, then cascaded the training to parents. These tablets were distributed to children enrolled in SRP classes so that their parents and children can continue to access teaching-learning materials, worksheets at home
- The team continued to target Syrian children through mobilization activities in the reporting period for School Readiness Program and Kindergarten.
Results of the Good Practice
- According to the endline evaluation, by close of this project, Plan International had established: 102 gender sensitive and inclusive kindergarten spaces in high-need areas, through renovating, and increasing the number of classrooms as well as providing of grants to 7 Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and an increasing the number of learning spaces supported with double shifts to 28, reaching 4,023 children (2,010 girls and 2,013 boys), and 102 School Readiness Program (SRP) spaces, reaching 2,445 children (1,241 girls and 1,204 boys) and 2,358 parents (1,389 females, 969 males), exceeding all targets initially set at the start of the project
- Responded and adapted to the challenging demands of COVID-19, and the related impacts on school closures. This includes adapting the kindergarten program to be delivered remotely for 35 classes, reaching 761 students (396 boys, 365 girls) students. This represents 91% of the students enrolled in these classes prior to shutdowns.
- Female registration increased in Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD) services due to mobilization plans and parents’ meetings were parents’ knowledge about gender balance increased and the important of kindergarten stage for boys and girls as a preparation stage for grade 1 at school.
- Adapted the School Readiness Program (SRP) materials and modality to be delivered remotely
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
'The project contributed to alleviating pressure is on host countries through increasing access to quality early education all three targeted governorates including Azraq Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. This was not only through creation of physical spaces, training and education, but also through advocacy and awareness raising all with the primary focus of improving Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD).
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The project enhances refugee self-reliance by building early years foundations through achieving mastery of developmentally appropriate learning outcomes including five specific developmental domains: socio- emotional skills, motor skills, self and environment awareness skills, literacy skills, and cognitive skills which are an essential part for early years learning.
This project provides an opportunity to highlight Plan’s expertise in Early Childhood Care & Development in Emergencies (ECCDiE) programming, with a specific focus on addressing social-emotional learning and gender equality in a humanitarian context. Plan International Jordan has been able to build on the work of this project by securing additional funding for Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD) through IrishAid and BvL and is continuing to leverage the experience and successes from this project to apply for more funding.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
Unfortunately, there is still a huge gap at the Ministry of Education, schools for kindergarten rooms, continuing working to advocate for additional funds to support the Ministry of Education to cover this gap and support children in communities. Possible expansion of School Readiness Program to more communities and schools, as it was proven that it can be implemented without the need of structures.
The program is sustainable since the new kindergarten rooms established in Ministry of Education schools will continue to serve children (once schools re-open post-COVID-19). The work to build the capacity of Community Based Organisations and support them to register as official kindergarten service providers with the Ministry of Education will enable them to continue provision of kindergarten services in the host communities.