Less than two months away from the opening date of our new Early Childhood Development Centre in Wandago, Uganda, we look at how we developed a model for best practice and why we’re ready to replicate.
The model we have created together with Children on the Edge Africa in Loco Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre, has been developed in partnership with Madrasa ECD Programme, who have over 25 years of experience in developing an approach that makes a real difference in children’s cognitive development and later success in school.
In conjunction with our own 28 years of experience working with vulnerable children and the use of our Child Protection Team model, this approach has produced a successful blueprint of best practice ECD, that is ready to replicate to new and different areas.
Supporting around 70 children aged 3-6 a year, the Centre is currently being considered for designation as a centre for excellence in the Eastern Region.
After a double trip to our projects in Bangladesh and India this month, our International Director - Rachel Bentley shares five highlights that reflect some great progress for the children we work with.
The magnitude, longevity and escalation of the Rohingya refugee crisis has placed an enormous burden on host communities in Bangladesh. With the market for casual labour saturated by new arrivals, compensation for a day’s work in many border areas has plummeted to below 70 pence a day. Demand for commodities has also spiked, pushing up prices for basic provisions.
Most of those living near border prior to this crisis were already teetering on the edge of subsistence poverty, and poorly equipped to host one of the largest migrations in modern human history.
As a consequence, local communities are suffering and many children are forced to abandon their education. Many families cannot afford the associated costs of school or need their children to work in order to supplement household incomes.
Cox’s Bazar tourist beach is an area of outstanding natural beauty, yet it is ravaged by extreme poverty. As a result, rather than learning or playing, children often need to work to support their families. Cox’s Bazar is one of six districts with the highest incidence of child labour across the country (9.4% compared to the national average of 6%) and even if children could survive without working, in the slum areas where we operate, there are no government schools functioning.
ACAPS report that the education dropout rate here is 45% for boys and 30% for girls, largely because of low family income. It is one of the lowest performing districts with regards to education access, retention and achievement and UN figures state that currently, only 66.2 % of children in Bangladesh complete their primary education. 88% of female headed households have withdrawn children from school, citing rising food prices and the need for additional household labour.
A full third of the children living in these communities come from Rohingya families who have fled previous waves of violence. While they have attempted to blend in, a study by migration researchers ‘xchange’ in July 2018 stated that 85% of local people believed that Rohingya children should not go to Bangladeshi schools. The reality is that these refugees would not have any other access to education.
Doharazi Rohingya Enclaves
Since the early 1990s these communities have served as a safe haven for Rohingya migrants fleeing abuse in Rakhine State. Falling outside of the scrutiny of the border police, refugees in these areas have typically sought to live below the radar, and local landowners have happily received the cheap labour they offer.
Over time their numbers have swelled, with many new arrivals coming in the wake of the violence of 2016 and 2017. However, being unregistered and stateless, these Rohingya enjoy none of the services available to their counterparts in the refugee camps and children are entirely cut off from education and support.
Both groups of children are in danger of exploitation, trafficking and growing up without any education or chance to enjoy the opportunities that should be inherent in childhood.
A Spoonful of Sugar
Our fantastic corporate partners Make It Cheaper held a Halloween-themed Bake Off in October to raise money for Children on the Edge. To add to the sugar fuelled excitement they were lucky to have Manon, a quarter finalist in 2018’s Great British Bake Off, along to judge the competition. Manon also baked a five-tier chocolate cake to auction to raise even more cash.
There were some fantastic entries, with the five best-looking cakes shortlisted for tasting in order to determine the winner. The crown of Make It Cheaper’s Best Baker eventually went to Kelly – a cake Manon said she could eat all day! The Bake Off raised £400 for Children on the Edge and significantly added to the waistlines of all the staff as well.
Manon was delighted to help support the Bake Off saying: "I didn't think twice when I was asked to join and donate one of my cakes to help Children on the Edge! I didn't do that much, but I hope with this extra money raised, it will make a little difference to some children in need and give them a brighter future!"