How it works
A baseline study in 2010 identified the challenges affecting access to quality childhood development services. The planned longevity of the partnership between the Roger Federer Foundation and Credit Suisse assured financial and staff stability for the implementing partner in Malawi; ActionAid, and allowed the program to evolve and incorporate the changing context and respond to emerging needs. The initiative has supported the establishment of the appropriate governance structures and helped develop sustainable relationships with civil society organizations, traditional leaders and government ministries, all fueled by the enthusiasm and energy of empowered communities who want to own and manage their learning centers.
480 childcare centers have been renovated, enlarged or fully constructed by communities receiving external support, and are equipped with a kitchen, child friendly toilets, an outdoor play area and many have a communal garden and new access to safe water. More than 4800 caregivers have been trained and mentored on an on-going basis. 4775 committee members have been capacitated and supervised to manage a childcare center and involve parents and the community to sustain the quality of operation.
To date, the program has surpassed targets, with more than 154,000 children receiving quality education services. The provision of food and locally made play materials has increased the attendance of eligible children to 50%, and also substantially lowered malnutrition rates in this group. 85% of children who transitioned to primary school from the school readiness program have been measured as performing ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, compared to a figure of 15% in children arriving at primary school from a home environment.
Due to the strength of the Early Childhood Development Initiative, the government of Malawi has partnered with the World Bank, which provided funding to further scale the program. The Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare committed, in person, to guarantee the stability of the rural Community Based Childcare Centers in ten districts, and they have added an initiative to make an honorarium payment to volunteer caregivers and educators from a revolving fund which also offers affordable loans. The ECDI has built trust and in doing so, revived governmental networks to channel advocacy issues and share plans and budgets, and record management systems at community, district and national level to further influence policy.