Since the 1980’s, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has supported initiatives promoting a quality education for children, which is enlightening, focuses on autonomy, active learning, critical thought and on the child’s participation. Working with the Ministry of Social Security, and in partnership with the Childhood Association, AKF has been managing an Early Childhood Centre in Lisbon since 2009.
The aims are to demonstrate, evaluate and research a participatory pedagogy for children of varying backgrounds and create a centre providing high quality early years’ education from which others can learn. It builds on over 25 years of international experience in this field, as well as on research and dialogue with other specialists and pioneering organisations. The pedagogical perspective that has been developed by the Childhood Association with AKF support is called Pedagogy-in-Participation and includes professional/organizational development, parental involvement, intervention and research. Education for diversity and intercultural education is an important and integrated component. By working with 9 affiliate early childhood centers and supporting the Childhood Association to deliver a Masters in Early Childhood Development at the Catholic University in Lisbon, AKF is promoting the dissemination of the pedagogy to other education centers. In addition to the center based programme, AKF develops, tests and evaluates early childhood interventions in other settings, for example reading for children based in libraries, supporting parenting skills from pregnancy to the first year in health care centers and developing early years professionals skills to support pluralism in early years centers. The AKF office in Lisbon also undertakes interventions in early years to improve the quality of life for immigrant communities in Norway and Germany.