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“They are so excited to arrive each morning”

Françoise, Alphonsine, Grace and Leontie are caregivers at an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre in Ruhango, Rwanda.

Françoise smiles as she looks at the happy children, half of whom just two weeks ago on their first day were crying and scared.

“Now they have stopped crying, they are so excited to arrive each morning,” she says.

For young children, the first day of the ECCD year is always very exciting and nerve-racking.

Françoise and her fellow caregivers carry out lots of activities with song and dance to encourage the children to feel at ease.

An exciting new addition

Beyond the usual nerves of starting somewhere new, this year there was something to be even more excited about on the first day of term: a brand-new building with two large, brightly painted classrooms, a kitchen, toilets and a fenced off play area.

The caregivers’ enthusiasm and energy for their new centre shines through.

“It‟s easier to interact with the children now,” says Alphonsine.

“They’re more responsible because they feel so excited about the colours, and the round tables really encourage better socialisation and group work.”

Reaping the benefits

The 100 young children aged three to six who come to the centre will benefit from spending time in a safer and more child-friendly learning environment.

Research shows that investing in pre-primary aged children is key: starting young means they will learn the building blocks that will help them make the transition to primary school, perform better throughout their school careers, and probably go on to have better jobs as adults.

“The children will learn so much and they will have fun; they feel proud to be attending,” says Grace.

“Parents are also happy, ” adds Alphonsine, “and we hope this will continue for many years.”

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