The MENA region’s investment in ECD is among the lowest in the world
Countless research shows that best investment a community can make is in early childhood interventions and early childhood development (ECD). In fact, according to the World Bank, research shows that "investments in ECD significantly improve a child’s health, learning ability, future earnings, and life expectancy." However according to a recent publication by the World Bank Group, Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development in the Middle East and North Africa, "the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s investment in early childhood development is among the lowest in the world." The research presents very sobering statistics about a substantial deterioration in children’s early social, emotional, and cognitive development, in the West Bank and Gaza. The research finds that in 2010, a mere 58% of children aged 3-4 experienced four or more activities that support child development. Among children ages 0-4, families were less likely to engage them in critical cognitive development activities:
- 20% of children have had books (or picture books) read to them.
- 38% of children have stories told to them by family members.
- 42% of children have had families engage with them in activities of naming, counting, and drawing.
Similarly, parents in the West Bank and Gaza are not providing their children with adequate early childhood care and education (ECCE). According to the 2013 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2010, a devastating 15% of children ages 3-4 years old attend such programs. Further hindering the healthy development of children is violent discipline. UNICEF reveals that violent discipline negatively impacts the physical, psychological, and social development of children, which is far too common in the West Bank and Gaza. The report states that 92% of 2-4 year olds have been violently disciplined.
Socio-economic status of a family also affects a child's ability to thrive. In the West Bank and Gaza, "it is children from the most advantaged backgrounds who are attending ECCE, despite the fact that early childhood education has the greatest benefits for disadvantaged and vulnerable children." Unfortunately, "a least advantaged child has a 13% chance of attending ECCE and a most advantaged child has a 58% chance." In Nablus specifically, only 34.4% of children ages 3-4 attended ECCE programming.
What does TYO do to help fill the gaps?
TYO's Core Child Program, our ECD programming for children ages 4-8 years old, serves the most disadvantaged families in the Nablus areas and implements high-quality programs and curricula. All of our programs and transportation needs are completely free of charge to our beneficiaries, making ECCE and enrichment programs accessible to even the most vulnerable populations. Our Core Child Program also focuses on a wide array of innovative and cognitive learning activities including: storytelling, the concentration corner and the imagination room. We also supplement these activities with art therapy, sports classes, IT, Arabic and ESL classes.
Through The Women's Group (TWG), TYO's programs also train current and future parents in economic, personal and parenting skills. In TWG, we often focus on healthy child discipline protocols, helping mothers understand the dangers and long-term impact on a child's psyche, as a result of violent punishment.
Believing every family deserves the chance to succeed, we promote healthy and productive relationships between parents and their children.