For young children in Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, the community child-care center means a bowl of porridge and a place to stay while parents work in the corn, tobacco, and tea fields. In an effort to improve early childhood development programs, EDC and Save the Children are bringing interactive radio instruction (IRI) to both the adult volunteers who staff these centers and the children in their care.
The program is called Tiyende, which means “walking” in the Malawi language of Chichewa. Lessons use songs, stories, and games to engage the community center volunteers and the children in learning together. EDC is already using IRI to support its primary education curriculum (called Tikwere, or “climbing”) in Malawi.
“Save the Children is committed to early childhood development,” says EDC’s Carrie Lewis. “They came to EDC to see if our IRI program could be used in Malawi’s community-based child-care centers. Instead of just watching the children, volunteers could be trained to participate in interactive learning activities with them.”
EDC and Save the Children pilot-tested the program in two child-care centers near Blantyre, the commercial capitol of Malawi. “We found that caregivers who had no formal training could become educators,” Lewis says. “Our hope is to expand the program to help more community child-care centers train volunteers in early childhood education and prepare children for primary school.”
Funding for Tiyende was provided by Save the Children, with a grant from The Phyllis Draper Education Fund.
Originally published on April 17, 2009