Paving the way for early childhood in East Nusa Tenggara
An integrated approach to early childhood development helps students rebound from COVID-19
- Available in:
- Bahasa Indonesia
As the school year began in Nusa Tenggara Timur – following a long period of closures due to COVID-19 – Emy Bifel could hardly contain her bliss. Her students at Bethania Tunua Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre were inside the classroom enthusiastically playing with a range of educational toys.
“I am so grateful that this centre now has items the children can play with both indoor and outdoor,” says Emy with a wide grin. “Our students are now able to learn while playing to stimulate their creativity.”
Emy has been on a long journey – frustrated by limited funding and inadequate human resources – to build a strong and trusted ECD Centre, and to educate people in her community about the importance of ECD.
The outbreak of COVID-19, which was first detected in East Nusa Tenggara in early 2020, was a massive setback. The school’s closure for almost two years meant she had to work even harder to keep her students learning outside of the classroom and to keep parents convinced about the significance of ECD.
Amid this commitment to her students’ education, Emy’s school was selected to be part of an ECD programme that is funded by the Government of Japan and implemented through UNICEF.
The objective of the programme is to provide a range of integrated interventions to help children recover from lost learning and transition well to primary school. Efforts focus on improving access to quality education, essential water, sanitation and hygiene services, as well as critical health and protection services. Children also learn about COVID-19 prevention.
The programme includes building the capacity of teachers to improve how their students learn and to help parents and caregivers support their child’s holistic development. It also focuses on getting local government, health workers, volunteers and other community members involved in early childhood development.
Emy has been trained on an integrated and comprehensive approach to child development. She learned how to support learning for early literacy through play, how to monitor students’ health status – including how to identify malnourishment – and how to promote healthy and hygienic habits, including handwashing. Emy also learned new approaches to handle behaviour by children with different traits.
Emy and her fellow teacher Wati Liem now use a “My Village, My Home” chart, which is prominently displayed on the classroom wall, to track students’ immunization status. This helps parents and caregivers to learn more about the importance of immunization and encourages them to make sure their children fully immunized.
“Among parents, mothers are the only ones who are aware of the immunization status,” admits Emy. “Through this chart, we can tell the fathers about this so that both of them are equally aware of what to do next.”
“ECD is not only about education,” says Emy. “Apart from understanding their educational progress, we also need to monitor their height and weight, and the size of their arms. By properly measuring we can identify whether a child is wasted.” For Emy, and for many of the parents who she now shares her newfound knowledge with, this information is groundbreaking.
Emy is one of 160 ECD teachers in East Nusa Tenggara who have been trained, along with 3,200 parents or caregivers who have participated in the parenting intervention programme that covers positive discipline and other critical parenting issues. The HI-ECD programme is being implemented in 200 ECD centres and 100 primary schools in the provinces of Papua, South Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara.
Now that Emy’s classroom is full of children again, and she is better equipped to help ensure a brighter future for them, her hopes have soared. “My hope as a teacher is to help our children have a better future, which starts from ECD,” says Emy confidently.
UNICEF wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan for its support to provide essential COVID-19 recovery services for young children in Papua, South Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara