Quality pre-primary education is the basis of a child’s journey
Every stage of education that follows depends on its success. Yet, nearly half of all pre-primary-age children in Ethiopia miss this chance.
In Ethiopia, pre-primary education has greatly increased access to early childhood education for young children to develop their foundational skills. The gross enrolment rate (GER) in pre-primary education has grown from 9 percent in 2010 to 44 percent in 2022. The increase can be largely attributed to the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Regional Education Bureaus to establish 1-year pre-primary schooling opportunities for young children before they enter Grade 1.
Simegnew pre-primary school is an example of a pre-primary school in the Gondar Zuria district in the central Gondar zone in the Amhara region that delivers education services for young children.
Gedam Moges is one of the teachers in Simegnew pre-primary school. She creates a stimulating learning environment whereby children independently and freely explore their environment and interact with their friends and learning materials which enhances their development, particularly their concentration and problem-solving skills.
Gedam is an inspiring teacher. She has 11 years of work experience in pre-primary teaching. She also has a diploma in pre-primary education. Currently, she is studying for her degree in the early childhood education programme at Gondar University. Gedam says, “For children, playing is everything. In other words, it is part of their happiness and growth in their daily lives, and sometimes they might be hungry, but they would rather play. “
Gedam loves to engage with her students using interactive learning materials that promote hands-on and mind-on activities and believes this is the best way to support children’s learning and development. Gedam presents lessons in playful and engaging ways using existing materials that children know from their daily lives.
She believes that reading is not the only way to encourage children’s language development. Children need a playful engagement to enhance their language skills. Storytelling is a fun way for children to get accustomed to hearing different words, syllables, and sounds that they may not have normally heard in regular daily conversations.
Gedam says that when children are listening to a story, they will start to ask questions in their minds such as, “Who did it?”, “Why did he/she do it?” or “Is he/ she going to do it?”. They will remember the plot, characters, and important details of the story. Another way of active teaching is by singing songs and playing games.
“I am happy to have been part of this important training. It makes life so much easier, and teaching is more enjoyable. Also, I am learning a lot from the regular support from my school director and experts from the district and regional offices. Their support and follow-up have a huge impact on my day-to-day classroom activities,” says Gedam.
Gedam was one of the active participants during the pre-primary curriculum development process, enriching the document with practical and contextualized lesson activities. The development of the new pre-primary curriculum ensured that it utilised a competency-based playful approach.
Gedam develops a weekly lesson plan and strictly follows it to support children’s learning. This approach encouraged her to develop innovative ways to fill the learning gaps, such as shared book reading practices involving parents, siblings, or neighbours in reading and interacting with children to enhance the community-level literacy environment. Every week, children go home with one storybook from school. Gedam checks each child's ability to retell the story during the week.
Semgnew Primary School is equipped with an early childhood education kit, which was provided by UNICEF with from LEG0-ECW, which supports UNICEF’s partnership with the Government. UNICEF also offers technical assistance to the Government of Ethiopia through training pre-primary teachers, including Gedam, on play-based teaching approaches. Teachers are now trying to shift their teaching approaches to become more engaging, joyful, and meaningful for children’s effective learning in their classrooms.