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Ethiopia: innovative education in emergencies

The video we’re showing today in our Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre is ‘Tshehai Loves Learning’, the first educational TV series in Ethiopia for pre-school children. Produced by the Ethiopian production company Whizz Kids Workshop whoSave the Children has in the past worked with to develop a youth TV series ‘Involve me’, produced by and for adolescents. In Helewyn refugee camp, it’s the first time that the children have seen a Somali-language children’s programme, and in some cases any visual media at all. They’re captivated, shouting out their ABCs and 123s. The importance of ECCD in refugee camps Children in refugee contexts face many challenges and may experience psychosocial distress due to separation from families, witnessing distressing events and exposure to a host of other risks. Every week, up to 10,000 children aged between three and six access our ECCD programmes across five camps; implemented by 33 dedicated education staff in the field, who are supported by over a hundred volunteer refugee teachers. By enrolling in our ECCD programmes, young children are exposed to a wide range of activities from traditional songs, life-saving hygeine and health messages, to numeracy, literacy, and activities to support motor, cognitive, language, emotional and social development. And to support their learning, every child benefits from a nutritious meal. Expanding opportunities In developing countries, poverty, a lack of good nutrition, care and stimulation mean that nearly 40% of children under five fail to reach their milestones for cognitive development. As Save the Children’s ‘Laying the Foundation’ report highlights, providing an innovative and high-quality ECCD intervention has multiple returns. It’s also a great way to tackle gender barriers in education, raising parents awareness of the value formal education can have for both girls and boys. There are 39,190 children aged three to six years in Dolo Ado’s refugee camps and we’re constantly working with the community to explore ways to improve and expand our ECCD services. HEART In 2013, we’re planning to implement HEART (Healing and Education Through the Arts), a new global child development and education approach created by Save the Children that brings the proven power of artistic expression – drawing, painting, music, drama, dance and more – to children in need around the world. HEART helps children heal emotionally and learn critical skills, so they can achieve their highest potential. There is insurmountable evidence of the benefits of ECCD programmes and it has a vital role in giving every child an equal start in life.

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