It is a time of new beginnings in Uganda. After months of COVID-19 affected lockdowns, schools were finally allowed to open on January 10, 2022. enjuba is pleased to announce the launch of our ECD program as well, beginning with a model lab school for ages 3 to 6 years old. This lab school sits right next to our enjuba Offices, and its impact has been immense already: colorful playground equipment fill our lawn and we hear the children playing while working at our desks. Although graced with joy and laughter, our model lab school serves quite a hefty purpose. In an educational system with a high dropout rate (60% dropout rate in primary) and where some 83% of children under 10 years old cannot read and comprehend, enjuba has sought to support Ugandan children at the foundation.
Introducing the enjuba Pre-School!—an early childhood development center designed to not only teach and nurture, but observe and learn from the children as well. The school has been a long time coming, for in Uganda, early childhood instruction is in crisis mode. There is a scarcity of early childhood development centers (ECD Centers) in rural areas and little research has been done to understand the young Ugandan child. The Pre-School will serve as a model for the rest of the country, and possibly all Eastern Africa, and will be a starting point for enjuba to build and strengthen more ECD Centers and pre-school centers. We envision a center for early childhood education in every Ugandan primary school, where dropout rates and low literacy scores will improve with quality, early instruction.
Our underlying motivation of creating a lab school centers on improving instructional materials and methods. While we have crafted a hybrid curriculum from both Ugandan and international lesson plans, we use EdTech to take careful notes of children’s progress, behavior, and overall development. Learning does not take place by sitting still at a desk all day or by rote memorization, we believe, but rather by engaging lessons and play through learning. Likewise, we are dedicated to model small class sizes of two teachers and no more than fifteen children.
As the needs of early childhood development are extensive, the enjuba Lab School and following ECD Centers are not limited to academia only. Scheduling consistent visits and screenings from health professionals, as well as serving daily nutritious meals for the children, is a priority. In addition, children will also be taught music and musical instruments, chess and an introduction to coding. Emotional and societal needs are also considered, such as in group experiences and playtime with opportunities for each child to learn to express themselves and make decisions. Our work does not end on the school property either, for it takes a community to raise up the young children. Interventions range from making home visits, holding sessions on parenting open to the public, and providing financial guidance to help parents save for their children’s future.
The impact of our model lab school, and the later, numerous ECD Centers, are far reaching. The participating children benefit with individualized instruction, health and nutritional care, and literacy and cognitive development growth. It is estimated that with such quality early education, school dropout rates in the first two years of primary will decrease by 90%. Parents and the community will be reached and strengthened through the program, and the early childhood research found will best equip each Ugandan child for their future.
We invite each reader to journey with us in early childhood education in Uganda and give a head start to each child’s life. You can send your support, via Global Giving, using the link below: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/enjuba-ecd-lab-school/