Ammar, his mother and the Center

How the life of a child enrolled in an H&MF supported Early Childhood Development (ECD) voluntary center changed.

Nourhan Maayouf
How the life of a child enrolled in an H&M supported Early Childhood Development (ECD) voluntary center changed
UNICEF/Egypt 2019/Nourhan Maayouf
17 October 2019

Aswan, Egypt - “When I grow up, I want to drive a car” said 4-year-old Ammar while playing a car racing game on his brother’s tablet. Ammar is one of the children enrolled in Early Childhood Development (ECD) voluntary center in Nagaa Helal, in Upper Egypt. “Ammar was too attached to the computer,” says Abdu Abdelhakim, Ammar’s father. For him, the center gave Ammar the chance to interact with other children his age and to stay away from the computer screen.

Ammar’s parents were first encouraged to enroll him in the ECD center because of the non-formal, play-based education system applied there. This methodology is perceived to be more friendly and easier for children at this early childhood stage. The methodology is taught to facilitators by the Central Association for KG Supervisors League and is designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

Children are introduced to life skills and personal hygiene. “When Ammar first joined, he used to be very chaotic, he left his toys everywhere. Now he is very organized and places his bag and shoes in the right place” explains Shorouk, a facilitator in the ECD voluntary center.

Ammar with Shorouk, the facilitator, in the stories corner

Attending the ECD voluntary center everyday has taught children discipline and commitment. “Ammar used to sleep at a very late hour, now he sleeps early to go to the center in the morning” says Nagwa, Ammar’s mother.

Moreover, ECD voluntary centers teach children independence. “Ammar also used to be very attached to his mother when he first joined the center. He used to cry when his mother is about to leave. We solved this issue by letting his mother stay with him during the first two days until Ammar got used to the place” explains Shorouk.

On the other hand, the ECD voluntary centers contribute to empowering the career of working mothers. Ammar’s mother has started a small business at home to support the income of her family. “I sell clothes to all women in the village. Now, I can carry out all business-related errands while Ammar is at the center” says Nagwa, the mother of Ammar.

Nagwa holding one of the dresses that she sells as a home business

The ECD voluntary center in Edfu city is one of the very first centers to be established earlier this year in Aswan. It is a pilot model funded by the H&M Foundation and designed by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, the Central association for KG Supervisors League and the Ministry of Social Solidarity. The ECD voluntary centers target children aged between two and four years old. They use the spaces of youth centers, under the leadership of MoY, to promote youth and community engagement in some of the most deprived communities. The initial target is to establish twenty five centers in three governorates: Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan.