“Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world”
Soft Power Education funds and runs two pre-schools for 180 of the most in-need children from Buwenda and Kyabirwa villages in the rural Jinja district. Attending pre-school for a few hours each morning gives the children the chance to just be children. All 180 of them are little balls of energy – eager to read, write, dance, sing and play. They start to learn how to behave in a learning environment, develop their social skills, make friends and begin speaking basic English language. Although we work to ensure that our pre-schoolers can pass the required exam to enter primary school, the key focus of our pre-schools is that children learn best through having fun!
Our six qualified pre-school teachers are just as energetic as the children! They guide our pupils through the early years curriculum, whilst visiting volunteers allow us to do small 121 or group sessions that get them out of the classroom and engaged in creative tasks (art and craft, music, drama, games) that supplement their learning in a creative way. This also reduces the number of children in class at one time, allowing our teachers more time to focus on each individual child.
Attending pre-school also has an impact on future learning. For P3 to P7 students, having two or more years of pre-primary experience boosts English competence by 15%, local language by 13% and numeracy by 7% (Twaweza).
SPE covers the cost of both pre-schools and families do not pay for their children to attend. The on-going generosity of donors and volunteers ensures that we are able to cover everything from paying the teachers’ wages, to books, pencils and new uniforms at the start of each academic year.
We work closely with community leaders to ensure that the children at our pre-schools are the ones who need assistance the most, some are AIDS orphans and others are just from desperately poor families stuck in a cycle of poverty. Each pre-school has a Parent Teacher Association and School Management Committee.
Although we cannot guarantee that every child from our pre-schools will go onto primary education, they are given a good foundation for learning and a strong sense of being loved and looked after. They may be tiny, but our pre-schoolers are immensely independent and wise for their age with smiles that brighten up the lives of all those involved in giving them a good and much-needed start in life.
“Conducive learning environments for school children are promoted in the target communities through the provision of innovating learning support, school infrastructure upgrades and pre-school education”
Soft Power Education Strategic Objective Three
In 2015, only 27% of children aged 3-5 were in pre-primary education, and a much smaller proportion actually received the expected two years.
47% of P3-P7 pupils can read a P2 level story, compared to only 32% of children who did not attend pre-school.
Furthermore, children who attended pre-school were more likely to enter primary school at the correct age of six than those who had not attended. 63% of those aged six who had attended pre-school were in P1, compared to 51% of those who had not attended pre-school. Studies show that the older children in a given grade tend to perform less well than the average, being more likely to have started school late or repeated a grade at some stage (Twaweza 2015).
Buwenda was not only our first pre-school, but Soft Power Education’s first ever building project! From humble beginnings, this is where SPE began. Located on the main road between Jinja and Bujagali, the pre-school sits on land gifted by the community and took two years to build with donations and support from visiting overland tourists working alongside our team of local builders.
Headmistress Anna leads the pre-school alongside teachers Hellen and Regina who each teach a class of 30 children aged between three and six years old.
Kyabirwa Children’s Centre
Kyabirwa Children’s Centre (KCC) sits in the heart of the Kyabirwa community close to the banks of the River Nile. KCC was born out a request from the community members who, having seen what SPE had achieved in Buwenda, wanted the same opportunities for their children.
The children at KCC enjoy a large compound allowing them plenty of space to run around outside and to host our annual Sports Days, which see the two pre-schools compete against each other in races, bottle filling, balloon bursting and more!
Headmistress Kanah, and teachers Hasifa and Mariam each teach the three classes (baby, middle and top) everyday from 8.30am-12.30pm.
Support from Long Term Volunteers allows us to run small 121 or group sessions with our pre-school children. This gets them out of the classroom and engaged in creative tasks (art and craft, music, drama, games) that supplement their learning. It also reduces the number of children in each class at one time, allowing our teachers to focus on each individual child.