It has been a long-term aim of DATUM to construct and equip a pre-school nursery in the Nkhata Bay region of northern Malawi to improve young children's preparedness for primary education.
The importance of access to early childhood care and education is now well established and is clearly stated in UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4.2.
4.2 Early childhood development and universal pre-primary education “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.”(UNESCO 2015)
Neuroscience research indicates that preschool education fosters cognitive development and provides an important foundation for future learning. But according to the latest data, pre-school enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa covers only 32% of the age group – corresponding to only 24m children. (UNESCO, 2019).
DATUM also recognises the early years as critical to children’s development and has sought to provide pre-school facilities for both girls and boys and improve their preparedness for primary education. It has been a long-term aim of DATUM to construct and equip a pre-school nursery in Mkondeezi in northern Malawi.
In discussions with Alice Leaper of Butterfly Space they identified an existing nursery which had been built – but remained incomplete and unused.
DATUM approved grants to complete the building works. Internally this included, the laying a concrete floor, the installation of doors, windows, and internal decorations. The main feature is a large colourful mural on one of the walls. Also, new furniture was installed.
Externally DATUM financed the construction of a toilet and washroom for the little ones and a sand pit. In 2023, after the rainy season, the garden area will also be planted.
The aim is to provide a stimulating environment for children. So, DATUM have also paid for some toys to be purchased locally. The colourful plastic bricks have already proved to be a big favourite. DATUM is currently collecting range of suitable books and toys, and these will be sent over to the nursery early in the new year.
The new nursery has already proved to be a success and the two teachers already care for and educate some 20 children.
DATUM is already working on two more pre-school nurseries in the villages of Jalowe and Diano – so hope to be helping more young children in the near future.