Numerous studies have shown that a child’s formative years, from birth to eight years old, are critical for cognitive, physical, social, emotional and language development. Investing in the first years of life is key to developing children who are confident and creative learners, active problem-solvers and socially responsible members of society. In 2003, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) started an Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme based upon these principles.
Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) plans to build upon local strengths and identify critical gaps related to the care, development, and education of young children. The Foundation’s long-term goal is to enhance and promote the well-being and opportunities of children and their caregivers. AKF plans to achieve this by facilitating the piloting and replication of different ECD approaches, raising awareness about ECD core concepts and encouraging the development of ECD networks, providing and supporting capacity building for local ECD stakeholders, and assisting in the review and development of ECD policies and legislation. At the national level, AKF played a facilitating role in the establishment of a national ECD Networking Group. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, the ECD Programme provided input towards developing the first draft of a National ECD Strategy. In addition, the ECD Programme provided technical assistance to the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs. Another focus for the ECD Programme was the professional development of selected ECD supervisors, trainers and managers. Through a series of related training sessions and continuous follow-up, AKF facilitated building skills and competency in the areas of management and supervision in early childhood programmes. Thirty kindergarten managers and supervisors working for the Women’s Federation and Ministry of Education benefited from the training programme.