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FACES OF CHANGE

  • Communities paving the way for quality teaching

    Swafiya, Kenya

    Swafiya Said knew that the system of education in the Muslim community of Mombasa was not good enough. The traditional preschools emphasized rote learning and provided few practical and enjoyable learning opportunities to children. As a teacher, Swafiya knew the there could be a better way, so she developed a new teaching model, which integrated child-centered methods in pre-school subjects with a solid grounding in cultural education.

    In 1986, the Foundation recognized Swafiya’s work with a grant to design pre-school curriculum, training and tools for low-income communities in Mombasa, Kenya. Later the Foundation established with Swafiya a Resource Center to provide ongoing training and teacher resources to pre-schools. The program centers have spread to over 200 schools in Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar, with a very strong teacher training program.

    Community Commitment

    Today, communities from all around East Africa are actively involved in managing the schools and supporting the quality of education for their young children. Communities create endowments to effectively manage and finance their local schools. They also help teachers create locally crafted, low-cost/no-cost, culturally appropriate educational tools. A community -- and not just students -- graduates from the Resource Center's programs. The centers continue to provide guidance and encouragement to the communities after graduation.

    Building upon the initiative of one citizen, through collaboration, experimentation and resourcefulness, an entire system of education was re-evaluated and re-structured.  Tens of thousands of people in one region have benefited. The East Africa preschool program has helped over 60,000 young children and trained 5,000 women as teachers. 

    Our Foundation partners on an ongoing basis with champions like Swafiya, who are the real forces behind development, to enable their initiatives to have the greatest impact for the benefit of the people.

    Read more about a graduate from this program and her reflection on her preschool roots.