LIBERIA EARLY CHILDHOOD INITIATIVE (LECI): Provides teachers with training and tools to augment early childhood education for Liberian students. The program uses a “school in a box” concept, to ensure that each teacher has carefully designed materials, supplies, books, and manipulative that they can utilize daily for the length of the academic year.
Since 2010, approximately seventy-five schools, four hundred teachers and eight thousand pupils have benefited annually from the LECI program (also referred to locally as the Mother Goose Time Initiative). LECI provides essential elements to support the rapid developmental skills of our beneficiaries. The goal of LECI is to improve early childhood education (ECI) and enrollment in Liberia. LECI is an extraordinary initiative that addresses the ongoing problem of the lack of proper teacher training, lack of awareness of the value of ECE, and lack of age-appropriate learning materials.
To accomplish its goal, LECI has the following critical objectives:
Training: The training of teachers is a critical component of LECI. Prior to the start of each school year, YAI conducts a training program for all participating teachers and schools. The training provides teachers an opportunity to learn not only how to use the tools effectively, but also skills like classroom management and concepts like learning through play.
Materials: LECI provides the first of its kind standardized curriculum accompanied by training and materials for teachers in Liberia. At the core of the program are the in kind materials provided by Mother Goose Time. The curriculum, which has been carefully designed to aid the development of the children, makes learning fun for the teachers, students, and parents. Teachers become more confident with these tools, and students can learn in an environment conducive for ECE. To put this in perspective, without LECI, most pre-primary classrooms have bare walls, no visual aids and at best teachers are equipped with a blackboard, chalk and a whip. The materials provided by LECI transform the entire classroom and make it more kid-friendly and suitable for learning.
Community awareness: LECI provides sensitization so parents not only enroll their children in school but understand the value of ensuring children attend consistently. Over the last several years, teachers have noticed a 90% improvement in their overall attendance when they used the LECI curriculum and materials. Parents said they were more willing to enroll and send their kids because they could see what their children were learning and could also see immediate improvements in their kids’ overall attitudes, behavior and interactions. YAI’s team members hold community engagement workshops to sensitize local communities. The workshops show how increased access to education at an earlier age can set the pace for the rest of students’ educational trajectory. By demonstrating how LECI addresses both the immediate and long-term needs of children, parents themselves become champions of the program.
In the past, YAI held one major annual training for up to 500 teachers, but this year we reduced the number of participating teachers to 75 and spread out the training with multiple sessions. The teachers also received Mother Goose Time educational materials (school in a box) for about 2,500 students. The goal for the 2022 school year is to scale up the program by doubling its total reach.