Preschools and informal playgroups
Good preschools are an important foundation for the child development at an early stage. HPP continues to run play groups inspired from PCI in the Tsela Kgopo program in three districts. Here we cite an example from the HPP inMabutsane report:
Mabutsane sub district has three private preschools which only benefit children from families that can afford to pay school fees. Orphans and vulnerable children are left behind which make it difficult for them to cope, when they are introduced to the primary school environment. HPP wishes to provide a much needed period for the children to prepare themselves to start in primary school and also to improve the retention rate in local primary schools.
Therefore HOPE Mabutsane started informal play groups targeting these vulnerable children to access early learning. Informal play groups are stimulating the cognitive skills of the children, and helps the children to relate well with others, learn life skills and the classes.
About 481 OVC has been referred to preschools and play-groups. The activities for the informal play groups run twice a week for two hours. The play group sessions had been facilitated by three community volunteers. The Peace Corp volunteer assists through facilitating kids’ activities such as children’s games. The activities included learning colours, letters and numbers, storytelling, educational and cultural games, songs and dances.
More results came out of these efforts during 2015
A total number of 84 children had been referred to standard one Orientation. Also a total of 222 children in play groups had been followed to their homes and assessed. Khakhea Village development committee has offered their preschool to be used during play group sessions. MYSC Mabutsane Office staffs have pledged to buy some equipment’s for the children in the existing play group at the centre.
Families in the villages now acknowledge the importance of IECD for their children’s development. It is evident that IECD services are helping children to learn how to interact with others, develop friends (social networks) and improve the child’s confidence and self-esteem especially for vulnerable children, and improve child-parent communication and inter-personal relationships. HPP Botswana also prepares them to cope with and break out of stigma and discrimination, abuse, rejection, neglect and isolation at the community or at households level. HPP hopes to start training of preschool teachers during 2016.