Early childhood education is the foundation on which future academic success, or even merely continuation, is built. Historically, Nepali schools have not offered early education classrooms to help children acclimate to the academic setting and develop appropriately. Over the years, ETC has established dozens of kindergarten programs. Our staff works closely with school officials, parents, and teachers to establish and maintain the kindergartens as permanent fixtures within schools. Students who began their academic pursuits in ETC’s kindergarten classrooms were far less likely to drop out before completing secondary school than were their peers who did not.
Kindergartens prepare children for a lifetime of learning, in part by instilling a habit of regular attendance. Educators trained by ETC nurture the innate creativity of children and prepare them for the rigors of primary education and beyond. ETC-sponsored kindergartens make learning joyful and effective, which encourages the holistic development of the child. Children who have passed through the kindergarten program develop good study habits, health practices, and socialization that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Keeping children in school is a major challenge for many families. The economic needs of the household often outweigh the desire parents have to send their kids to school. Girls in particular are often kept home to care for younger siblings and do household chores. There is also less interest in investing in girls’ education because after marriage they live with their husbands’ families and work for them. Scholarships are an essential tool for addressing these problems. ETC offers several scholarship programs that support hundreds of children, with an emphasis on girls.
ETC’s integrated community development program model reinforces the idea that educating children is complementary with women’s empowerment and agricultural development; all of these things are mutually supporting and improve whole communities. By promoting inter-generational solidarity, ETC strives to ensure that the education of children benefits not just them as individuals but all of Nepali society and to help a new generation of community leaders to emerge.
Creating a healthy environment is essential for educational success. ETC’s School Improvement Program ensures that schools have adequate infrastructure, including furniture and supplies. This helps improve the quality of education and school enrollment rates, and reduce dropout rates. Among the many facets of the SIP are: roofing repair/replacement; wall and floor plastering; installation of fencing, retaining walls, doors, and windows; toilet construction; provision of safe drinking water; furniture and classroom supplies; recreational materials; first aid supplies; and in many cases, entirely new buildings. ETC’s investment is matched by a community contribution (in-kind support from community members) of at least 25%, usually in the form of building materials and labor, thus bolstering the communities’ commitments to and pride in their village schools.