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  • At the Ak-Dil kindergarten in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic, the Aga Khan Foundation provides teachers with training in the Science of ECD.
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
  • Early Childhood Development project in Baba Dogo Ward in Nairobi, Kenya.
    AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura
  • The Olivais Centre in Greater Lisbon is a reference point for quality Early Childhood Development services in Portugal.
    AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura
  • AKF seeks to professionalise the ECD workforce by transforming the quality and status of the profession. This includes helping ECD professionals with academic and career pathways, developing contextually-relevant, gender-sensitive ECD pre-service and in-service teacher development courses and offering quality training, mentoring and supervision for frontline staff, e.g., teachers, nurses.
    AKDN / Lucas Cuervo Moura
  • Early Childhood Development centre in West Aswan, Egypt.
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Early Childhood

The brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of a child’s life. Yet, worldwide, 250 million children are not reaching their potential during these years. In 2015, an estimated six million children died before reaching age five, mostly as a result of diseases which are readily and affordably preventable and treatable. In developing countries, 159 million children do not have access to pre-school. They live in areas affected by armed conflict and climate-related disasters. Their growth is stunted, which harms their brain development. 

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) works to ensure that girls and boys have a good start in life by influencing the environments in which they are growing by improving access to quality services, enhanced family and community support and strengthened human resources and institutions. Globally, AKDN’s early childhood development (ECD) initiatives provide 750,000 children ages 0 to 8 years with nurturing, relevant and quality learning opportunities at costs affordable for governments, families and communities.

Early Childhood

Programme highlights 1: AKF’s Early Childhood programmes benefit over 250,000 children (ages 0 to 6), and over 8,000 teachers, health workers and facilitators.

Programme highlights 2: In Tajikistan, children that attend AKF-supported ECD programmes outperform their peers by 10% in early grade reading and math assessments.

Current programme countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda.

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At the state-owned Jomok kindergarten in Osh, Kyrgyz Republic, the Aga Khan Foundation provides teacher training in the latest ECD pedagogies and techniques, as well as classroom materials.
Copyright: 
AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer

Access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) Services
AKF promotes the ability of every child from conception to six years to survive and thrive. AKF’s ECD portfolio is guided by the holistic approach of the Nurturing Care Framework across five inputs: health, nutrition, cognitive stimulation and education, safety and security and responsive caregiving. AKF seeks to ensure all five elements are integrated in programming. AKF supports young children through formal and non-formal early childhood centres and community play/learning spaces, health and nutrition, social protection platforms and economic inclusion platforms.

Strengthening the capacity of government policymakers and the ECD workforce
AKF contributes to children’s protective and safe environments by strengthening the capacity of government and the ECD workforce. AKF supports various government departments, such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women and Children, to develop and finance ECD-friendly policies. AKF works with the government, universities and professional development institutions to strengthen the capacity of the ECD workforce. This includes community health workers, pre-school teachers, social workers, nurses and others.

Engaging with parents and caregivers

AKF equips parents and primary caregivers with the knowledge and skills to be their children’s first and most important teachers in life. AKF not only supports mothers, including adolescent mothers, but fathers as well. AKF supports parents and caregivers through one-on-one home visits conducted by health/social workers, pregnant women groups, women’s savings and loan groups, antenatal health care visits, post birth visits, peer-to-peer parenting group sessions and community-wide information campaigns using media.

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The Reading for Children Programme in India.
Copyright: 
AKDN / Mansi Midha