Curiosity doesn't quite capture one's imagination as it does during childhood. It is the time when children make candid observations, give honest opinions and ask questions, especially when they see something that seems unfamiliar. They master different concepts. Teaching them pluralism and the value of tolerance is thus important so that they don't judge people from the very beginning of their life.
Through introducing a set of eleven Bangla Language storybooks for readers aged 3 to 8, the issue of pluralism and tolerance, in context of Bangladesh, has been brought into the forefront in classrooms by the Aga Khan Foundation (Bangladesh) as part of their commitment to work for early child development.
On one hand, children are being raised in an increasingly diverse cultural environment where pluralism has become a new norm. On the other hand, in an increasingly digitalized world children are consistently being exposed to intolerance. Therefore, promoting pluralistic values among young children has become a dire need, believes the mastermind behind this project. These values include identity, mutual respect, social inclusion and the benefits of diversity to individuals and their communities, among other.
The project aims to encourage children to develop a pluralistic worldview through developing original children's storybooks in Bangla. It also intends to give proper training to relevant stakeholders on their use.
The books were developed in collaboration with Aga Khan Education Service, Bangladesh and Friends in Village Development Bangladesh, a Sylhet based NGO, and piloted in the Aga Khan School, Dhaka, as well as NGO and government schools in Dhaka and Sylhet. The initiative is financially supported by the Government of Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada and has been in implementation since January 2015 and will continue till March 2016.
After months of research and hours spent designing and redesigning the model of the book, a number of children's writers and illustrators have come up with these storybooks. They too were oriented on pluralism and how to incorporate them into the books in an easy-to-understand manner. The last page of each book briefs you on how to connect with children by asking questions and getting engaged in a conversation around pluralism in various contexts, including school and home settings.
Educational stakeholders, civil society organisations (CSOs), and government are engaged in order to strengthen their capacity to develop, and utilise, children's storybooks as a platform for building their understanding of concepts of pluralism. A local expert group has been formed comprised of relevant Government of Bangladesh departments, civil society organisations, and Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies to provide technical inputs for the purposes of contextualisation and to ensure wider dissemination.
These books are for parents as well, on being able to understand, appreciate and work with people coming from varied backgrounds. Because if they want their kids to be generous, compassionate and to value wisdom in a pluralistic culture, they must do the same and do so willingly and openly.
Teaching tolerance and diversity can take many directions, and storytelling is surely the best one, believes the project coordinator. A discussion on the significance of multiculturalism might prove too heavy for a child to digest; however, a child will surely be interested in a book where an ant attends religious festivals of different religions in search of sugar. Likewise, the other books too attempt to teach more about people of different ability, age, culture and religion.
They pledge to teach children that no life is more rewarding and fulfilling than a life that respects harmony in individuality. We cannot but appreciate such an endeavour
Aga Khan Foundation discussion on poverty alleviation and early child development at Ismaili Centre, London
Ismaili Centre London
Michael Kocher, General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation, and Sheila Manji, AKF Early Childhood Development specialist, spoke at the Ismaili Centre, London on 26 November 2015 about the Foundation’s role within the Aga Khan Development Network and its unique approach to poverty alleviation. The Foundation’s early childhood development work across the world was discussed, with particular focus on Tajikistan.
Following their addresses, Michael and Sheila were joined onstage by Aga Khan Foundation (UK) National Committee Chairman Naguib Kheraj for a question and answer session facilitated by the Aga Khan Education Board’s ECD Member, Sultana Ladhani.
BEING bilingual has some obvious advantages. Learning more than one language enables new conversations and new experiences. But in recent years, psychology researchers have demonstrated some less obvious advantages of bilingualism, too. For instance, bilingual children may enjoy certain cognitive benefits, such as improved executive function — which is critical for problem solving and other mentally demanding activities.
Now, two new studies demonstrate that multilingual exposure improves not only children’s cognitive skills but also their social abilities.
IN 1986, in a few of the poorest neighborhoods in Kingston, Jamaica, a team of researchers from the University of the West Indies embarked on an experiment that has done a great deal, over time, to change our thinking about how to help children succeed, especially those living in poverty. Its message: Help children by supporting and coaching their parents.
The researchers divided the families of 129 infants and toddlers into groups. The first group received hourlong home visits once a week from a trained researcher who encouraged the parents to spend more time playing actively with their children: reading picture books, singing songs, playing peekaboo. A second group of children received a kilogram of a milk-based nutritional supplement each week. A control group received nothing. The interventions themselves ended after two years, but the researchers have followed the children ever since.
The intervention that made the big difference in the children’s lives, as it turned out, wasn’t the added nutrition; it was the encouragement to the parents to play. The children whose parents were counseled to play more with them did better, throughout childhood, on tests of I.Q., aggressive behavior and self-control. Today, as adults, they earn an average of 25 percent more per year than the subjects whose parents didn’t receive home visits.
A wave of recent research in neuroscience explains why early childhood is so critical: That’s when the brain is developing most quickly. Children growing up in poverty face high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which changes the architecture of the brain, compromising areas like the amygdala and hippocampus.
A new collection of essays from Harvard Education Press, “The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education,” says that this “toxic stress” from poverty impairs brain circuits responsible for impulse control, working memory, emotional regulation, error processing and healthy metabolic functioning. Early-childhood programs protect those young brains.
The good news is that attention is finally turning to the love lives of our students — to the psychic and emotional qualities they bring to the classroom. No one is better at chronicling this shift than Paul Tough, the author of “How Children Succeed” and now “Helping Children Succeed.” In his latest book, he asks how, concretely, can we improve students’ noncognitive skills. (“Noncognitive skills” is a euphemism social scientists use for those things students get from love and attachment.)
Tough notices that many of the teachers who improve their students’ character never actually talk about character. They coach them in chess, or enthuse over science. Tough concludes that skills like resilience and self-control are not really skills the way reading is a skill, they are traits imparted by an environment.
The most important educational environment is the one that surrounds a child in the first five years, when the emotional foundations are being engraved. The gap between rich and poor students opens up before age 5 and stays pretty constant through high school. Despite this, the U.S. ranks 31st out of 32 developed nations in the amount it spends on early childhood.
What Babies Know About Physics and Foreign Languages
Parents and policy makers have become obsessed with getting young children to learn more, faster. But the picture of early learning that drives them is exactly the opposite of the one that emerges from developmental science.
In the last 30 years, the United States has completed its transformation to an information economy. Knowledge is as important in the 21st century as capital was in the 19th, or land in the 18th. In the same 30 years, scientists have discovered that even very young children learn more than we once thought possible. Put those together and our preoccupation with making children learn is no surprise.
The trouble is that most people think learning is the sort of thing we do in school, and that parents should act like teachers — they should direct special lessons at children to produce particular kinds of knowledge or skill, with the help of how-to books and “parenting” apps. Studies prove that high-quality preschool helps children thrive. But policy makers and educators are still under pressure to justify their investments in early childhood education. They’ve reacted by replacing pretend corners and playground time with “school readiness” tests.
But in fact, schools are a very recent invention. Young children were learning thousands of years before we had ever even thought of schools. Children in foraging cultures learned by watching what the people around them did every day, and by playing with the tools they used. New studies show that even the youngest children’s brains are designed to learn from this simple observation and play in a remarkably sensitive way.
You may not be surprised to learn that food preference is a social matter. What we choose to eat depends on more than just what tastes good or is healthful. People in different cultures eat different things, and within a culture, what you eat can signal something about who you are.
More surprising is that the sociality of food selection, it turns out, runs deep in human nature. In research published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, my colleagues and I showed that even 1-year-old babies understand that people’s food preferences depend on their social or cultural group.
Interestingly, we found that babies’ thinking about food preferences isn’t really about food per se. It’s more about the people eating foods, and the relationship between food choice and social groups.
Lamu signs MOU with Aga Khan foundation to establish modern ecde centres
Lamu, KENYA: The county government of Lamu has signed an MoU with the Aga Khan Foundation that will enable for the establishment of new and modern Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) Centres in the county.
Speaking at the Mwana Arafa Hotel in Lamu during the exercise on Monday,the Chief Executive officer of the foundation Kevin Moorhead said the move will see some elements of the European ECDE learning incorporated in the programme in order to give learners a new challenge.
He said ECDE teachers in the county will also receive special training from Aga Khan tutors; in order to enable them improve the model of learning for young children in Lamu.
Moorhead said the foundation was fully working with the county government in order to ensure the project is a success.
“We have been helping to build ECD learning in Kenya and Africa in general. We currently have a similar programme ongoing in Malawi,Zambia,Uganda and Tanzania. We are glad that the children of Lamu will also get a chance to taste modern learning through the programme,”said Moorhead.
Lamu governor who was also present, said the county had made its own independent strides in improving ECDE but welcomed the move by the Aga Khan foundation saying it’s a timely one and will come in handy in pushing the young learners education a notch higher.
Timamy said the county government had so far put up 45 ECDE centres across the county and that there were plans for 11 more to bring the total to 56 as set out in the county’s development agenda.
“We welcome the Aga Khan move and promise our unwavering support to ensure the programme is a success.all this is being done to improve the education of young people in the county,”said Timamy.
Aga Khan Foundation to train early childhood teachers in Kwale
The Aga Khan Foundation has signed an agreement with the Kwale County government to train early childhood teachers.
The agreement will see the foundation support Early Child Development Education (ECDE) programmes in the county.
The foundation and the county will have shared commitment to the children by providing learning opportunities.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at the Kwale Cultural Centre on Wednesday, Aga Khan Foundation Chief Executive Officer for East Africa Kevin Moorhead said the partnership will benefit more than 100,000 schoolchildren from across the county.
He said the foundation will train teachers in early childhood development and support school management committees and construct classrooms.
“Today we are not only celebrating a partnership between two organisations but more importantly we are celebrating the future of our children,” he said.
Mr Moorhead lauded the Kwale County government for its efforts to improve education standards in schools.
“I would like to congratulate the governor and his team because I have not seen a county which takes the social development agenda so seriously and has done so much,” he said.
Aga Khan Foundation Director for Coast Region Athrash Mohammed said the region has an annual budget of Sh98 million and spends 45 per cent of it in projects in Kwale.
He added that in the next financial year, the region will be allocated Sh248 million and a similar percentage will be issued to support projects in Kwale.
“We have given priority to Kwale County because of the good collaboration we are getting from the governor and his deputy compared to other counties,” he said.
Governor Salim Mvurya appreciated the support and partnership that Aga Khan Development Network has provided to improve education in the county.
He called upon other development partners to chip in and extend their services to primary schools in order to support the transition from ECDE centres to primary school.
“After studying in well-furnished ECDEs, children find it so hard to transit to primary because of poor infrastructure. We are calling on well-wishers to help us in this,” he said.
The county has also introduced a free feeding programme for all children to enable them concentrate in class.
Aga Khan Early Learning Centre awarded highest accreditation from the UK National Day Nurseries Association
Posted on 17 October 2016
Dubai, U.A.E. - The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre is proud to achieve the UK National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Level 3 accreditation. This award is the highest award given by the NDNA and the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre is the first and only nursery to achieve this level of certification in the UAE. The accreditation recognizes the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre as an exemplary nursery and preschool, based on international standards of quality and excellence in early childhood care and educational practice. The accreditation was achieved through a team effort of the AKELC staff, students, parents, and volunteers.
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is a national charitable organisation representing day nurseries across England, Scotland and Wales. The ethos behind NDNA’s mission is to support excellence in the early years workforce, whilst driving quality and sustainability in early years enterprise. The NDNA ensures that the child is at the centre of their work as they develop and deliver services to promote nurseries and educational development.
The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre (AKELC) is a purpose-built early childhood care and education facility that was established in 2010. AKELC provides care for approximately 100 children ages 12 months to 4 years. The centre follows the highest international standards of excellence with a secular British curriculum (EYFS), and offers bilingual language (English/Arabic) to children and families of all communities.
This Aga Khan Early Learning Centre is managed by the Aga Khan Education Services and supported by the Aga Khan Foundation; institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network.
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AKES Communications Manager
Children are cultural sponges: They absorb the mores that surround them — how to dress, what to eat, what to say. This is a good thing, all in all, since a major function of childhood is figuring out how to be a proficient adult in a particular society. This means picking up on social norms. Unfortunately, this includes learning your society’s explicit and implicit views of the status and worth of different social groups.
Developmental psychology research has shown that by the time they start kindergarten, children begin to show many of the same implicit racial attitudes that adults in our culture hold. Children have already learned to associate some groups with higher status, or more positive value, than others.
An association between status and group membership can be learned surprisingly quickly. The psychologists Kristin Shutts, Kristina R. Olson and Suzanne R. Horwitz recently demonstrated that in just a few minutes of exposure in a laboratory setting to information about fictional groups with differing socioeconomic status, children picked up on which groups were wealthier — and indicated that they liked those people better.
The Benefits of Puzzles in Early Childhood Development
November 27, 2013 by Michelle Manno
People have long known that puzzles present many benefits for children as they develop. Children usually start out with simple knobbed puzzles that are outlines of simple shapes that fit into corresponding board cutouts. From there they go to more complex silhouettes of real world objects that take more consideration.
The last step that people take with puzzles is usually to jigsaw puzzles of varying complexity. The user is guided by an image they assemble and every time you end up with the same result.
I am here today to write about the benefits of puzzles for your child as they grow, and offer a step beyond jigsaw puzzles that are found at Puzumi.com
The three basics of what puzzles do for your child
When your child is alone with a puzzle you can expect three basic skills to be built:
Physical skills -- from holding puzzle pieces and turning them until they fit
Cognitive skills -- as they solve the problems of a puzzle
Emotional skills -- they learn patience and are rewarded when they complete the puzzle
These three basic skills are the building blocks for a well rounded person. As Nancy Maldonado states in an article, puzzles allow “an opportunity for young children to focus on an activity that has an ending,” completing the pleasing image.
In addition to these three basics, doing a puzzle with a friend or family member also allows for the growth of social skills as they work together and communicate about what fits where. This is a minor point as nearly any activity done with more than one person will have this benefit.
Looking at the specific skills behind the three basics
Preschool can provide a boost, but the gains can fade surprisingly fast
What children typically learn are skills they would pick up anyway.
States and the federal government spend more than $15 billion a year on preschool education. With that hefty price tag, we want early-childhood programs to work. And to reduce long-standing educational inequalities, we need them to work. So it’s encouraging when studies show that these types of interventions can give children a boost by the time they enter kindergarten.
Unfortunately, our investments in many early-childhood programs may be based on an inflated sense of their promise. Even our best efforts often produce only ephemeral gains.
Children spend much of their early years learning about the world. They practice walking, talking and socialising with others, continuously observing their surroundings and trying to make sense of everything they experience. There are many ways in which children learn about their environments, but arguably the most effective is play.
Ensuring your young girls and boys attend a quality early childhood development (ECD) centre will help them get the best possible start in life. Across Uganda, teachers and caregivers are creating resource-rich environments where young children can learn through play, laying the foundation for them to develop into happy and healthy adults. This effort is part of the Aga Khan Foundation’s Madrasa Early Childhood Programme (MECP), in which ECD centres are giving children of all faiths aged 3-6 time and materials to play to boost their cognitive development. MECP has benefitted more than 20,000 children since its launch in Uganda in 1993, by establishing 90 ECD centres and supporting 63 existing pre-primary schools.
By the time you finish reading this sentence, a newborn baby’s brain will form thousands of new neural connections. This newborn’s mind and those of the next generation are crucial to the future of our planet, shaping and building what comes next for the global community.
With the right support in the early years of life, girls and boys can grow to reach their full developmental potential – learning, innovating, and accomplishing their goals. Studies indicate that every dollar invested in quality early childhood care generates a return of eight dollars over a lifetime. Yet, an estimated 250 million children younger than five in low and middle income countries are at risk of falling short of their potential. This not only has long-term effects on individuals, but also contributes to the cycle of poverty, inequality, and social exclusion that affects all countries.
On Monday, May 1, 2017 Aga Khan Foundation Canada and the Alliance for Human Development explored how tested approaches to early childhood development can be integrated into global development programming and policy. Growing gains – Advancing Early Childhood Development presented findings from the recent Lancet series on early childhood development, and illuminated how Canada contributes to advancing this field nationally and globally.
Join several authors of the Lancet series, other experts, and policymakers for a series of interactive sessions, engaging talks, and stimulating discussion.
AKF - The Impact of Investing in Early Childhood Development in Afghanistan
In order to better understand the impact of our programming in early childhood education, the Aga Khan Foundation partnered with Dr. Frances Aboud from McGill University in Canada. As a leading educational psychologist in her field, Dr. Aboud conducted an independent, evaluative study about the impact of ECD on students’ levels of school readiness and learning in Bamyan and Baghlan provinces at the end of 2014 –the first research of its kind in Afghanistan.
Early childhood education can be an invaluable opportunity for learning social and emotional skills. But when teachers repeatedly punish young children, their efforts can cause lifelong harm. Unfortunately, Matt’s story is not exceptional. Nearly 1 in 10 preschoolers is suspended or expelled for behavior problems. Their infractions — generally hitting, throwing things or swearing — need to be addressed, but educators are recognizing that removing 3- and 4-year-olds from classrooms is not the answer. It doesn’t teach children how to behave differently, and it often makes matters worse.
Young children who are suspended are often the ones who need the most social and academic support — and they end up missing opportunities to get it. Early suspension predicts disengagement from school and dropping-out. And the fact that African-American preschoolers are far more likely than white children to be suspended raises serious issues of equity and access to educational opportunity. As states like Illinois and Connecticut pass legislation prohibiting or restricting expulsion from state-funded preschools, teachers desperately need better options for handling misbehavior.
Across the country, school reformers are pushing for the expansion of publicly funded early education. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who won the Democratic mayoral primary on Sept. 12, ran on a platform in 2013 centered on the expansion of prekindergarten education to all 4-year-olds; now, in a proposal he is calling “3-K for All,” he plans to reach 3-year-olds, as well. The science is clear: Quality early education has long-term benefits. Still, not everyone is on the same page about what young learners really need. Below, one writer examines the landscape of prekindergarten education across the country, another instructs adults on how to understand young children, and a third will be a resource for parents in the process of selecting a school for their child.
By funding such projects adequately, every child would have a fair chance at attaining growth and healthy development, according to the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Dr Ave Maria Semakafu.
The government, civil society organisations, businesses and individuals have been exhorted to support early childhood development programmes.
Early childhood education expert: I saw a brilliant way to teach kids. Unfortunately it wasn’t in the United States.
I just visited with early childhood professionals in Nova Scotia, Canada. They showed me their new Early Learning Framework for the education of young children. It is a stellar example of what early childhood education could be if a country did it right, and a painful example for someone coming from a country where we do it so wrong.
Here are some basic facts about the Nova Scotia Early Learning Framework, and then I’ll contrast these facts with how we do things in early childhood education in the United States.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) is an important priority area for the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in East Africa. AKF’s ECD programme focuses on igniting the child’s potential for lifelong adaptability, innovation and communication skills, in addition to developing their problem-solving capacity and imparting in them the values of responsible citizenship and respect for diversity.
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