We believe that education is a tool for development, which can also help everyone to cultivate their inner qualities. Indeed, Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a major theme of intervention for Karuna-Shechen: we strive to promote a fulfilling childhood from the earliest age, so that each child can build his or her future in the best possible way.
Early Childhood Development: the forgotten part of education
In India and Nepal, many children still do not have access to preschool, either because of distance or because of the lack of school facilities: lack of adequate buildings, basic equipment, trained or experienced teachers. Local government funding is insufficient and very few NGOs are present to accompany young children in their development.
In addition, the populations in these remote areas often lack awareness and skills on how to raise and educate their young children in a healthy, joyful and caring environment.
Faced with this situation and motivated by compassion, Karuna-Shechen is developing an early childhood support program through play and creative activities. First in India since 2014 and then in Nepal since last year.
Towards a healthy, stimulating and caring environment for children
Teachers are trained to provide creative and caring education, so every child can grow in a healthy and joyful environment. Through this training, teachers are given the tools to do their jobs with joy, no longer being mere supervisors, but actively participating in the education of children.
I realized that we had not done anything in 7 years. We had to start from scratch! The teacher reminded me not only of the basic areas of learning in ECD, but also showed me how to create educational materials myself with fabric and other materials I can find in my daily life. It’s definitely a big challenge but I’m determined to do better from now on!Bimala Tolange, ECD Teacher in Banepa, Kavre, Nepal
Karuna also provides material support by providing games and creative activities. With the indoor play set, each room is divided into four areas :
- A calm and resting area with mattresses and games for the little ones
- A space with construction games
- A space for symbolic games where the children play with dolls and dinettes
- A space for representational games with cars, characters and animal figurines
The outdoor games trunk offers children a time to play outside with balls, hoops, stilts, skittles… Finally, the creative trunk allows for drawing and coloring sessions.
Parents are at the heart of their children’s education, yet they don’t always know how to create a healthy environment at home so that each child can flourish in his or her academic learning and development. Therefore, we educate parents on caring parenting, which promotes the overall growth of children and reduces abuse.
India: resuming activities after Covid-19
The COVID-19 crisis had a huge impact on our early childhood development program. We adapted by continuing to monitor the children remotely and then grouping the children in small groups. Children were also given homework assignments to keep them challenged.
In Bihar, the centers reopened in November 2021, and in February 2022 in Jharkhand where COVID had a greater presence. We have been able to regularly monitor and conduct our activities in 154 centers in Bihar, so 3,900 children are once again benefiting from our early childhood development programs.
Nepal: one year after
All the funds raised during the 4th edition of Action For Karuna in 2021 financed our program dedicated to early childhood in Nepal. One year later, we can see progress in the development of the children, but above all, we can see that they are happy and active! They are no longer bored, they play and laugh together. The joyful environment allows everyone to develop empathy and to naturally cooperate.
This year, Action for Karuna supports the food security program in India, which assists more than 53,000 families: organic vegetable gardens, fruit trees, drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting… The goal is to meet basic nutritional needs, promote environmentally friendly agriculture and encourage efficient water management.