© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Kiron
A teacher reads with her students in an early learning centre in Bandarban, Chittagong division.
Children who participate in early childhood education are more likely to enroll and remain in primary school (and achieve better results) than those who cannot access comprehensive early childhood care.Early learning centres
UNICEF’s Early Learning for Development Project provides centre-based care and education to the most vulnerable children between the ages of four and six.
Since 2006, UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh have established 5,560 early learning centres in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, urban slums and other disadvantaged districts. Teachers help children develop their linguistic, social and cognitive skills through:
- indoor and outdoor games
- making toys from materials brought from home
- question-and-answer sessions
Education for teachers and parents
UNICEF has supported training of preschool teachers, one for each early learning centre, in a programme currently serving over 254,000 children. Parents are encouraged to visit the centres where they can learn how to give age-appropriate interactive care to young children at home.
Working with primary schools
The early learning centres link with primary schools to provide transition support and encourage primary school enrolment. A study of graduates from UNICEF-supported centres showed that 94 per cent of children who attended preschool in the Chittagong Hill Tracts later enrolled in primary school.
Food and learning
In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, UNICEF is working with the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver micronutrient fortified biscuits to pre-school children attending the early learning centres. The mid-morning snacks motivate children to come to class. They also improve nutritional status and reduce short-term hunger, enhancing a child’s capacity to concentrate.
Child to child
UNICEF is piloting a child-to-child project to help prepare young children for primary school. Grade-five students from 30 primary schools pair with one or two local preschool-aged children. Each week, the grade-five students run an activity – drawing, singing, story telling or games – for the younger learners, under the supervision of a primary school teacher. The project provides additional early learning opportunities for young children and helps familiarise them with primary school.
Early learning for all
UNICEF works with the Government at policy level, and through the public media, to ensure that early learning is recognised as an essential part of every child’s education.
When the early learning programme was launched in 2001, public awareness of early childhood development and opportunities for formal early learning were almost non-existent. In 2007, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and UNICEF developed a pre-primary operational framework to establish preschool classes in all government primary schools by 2015.
UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh are committed to the Education for All initiative – a global movement to meet the educational needs of all people. Goal one is to expand and improve early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable children. UNICEF is working with the Government and NGOs to develop set standards for early learning throughout Bangladesh.
Download the Early learning factsheet.