Early childhood is a time of special importance in terms of the health, physical, cognitive, emotional, spiritual, and social development affecting a child’s overall well-being. It is widely recognized that young people are the most important human capital for the future sustainable development of any country.
One of World Vision Georgia’s major aims in Early Childhood Development is to advocate and/or contribute to local and national processes by supporting access to improved quality Early and Preschool Education services.
In 2015, WVG continued a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and its partner organizations UNICEF and the Open Society Institute (OSI). Collaboration areas covered policy development in the areas of the ‘Early and Preschool Education Strategy’, ‘Curriculum for 5-year-olds’, and ‘Preschool Service Standards’.
World Vision Georgia covers 7 municipalities in the Kakheti, Imereti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. There are 44 kindergartens, which entail 88 groups, providing preschool education services for 1088 boys and 1243 girls. All kindergartens and kindergarten union employees (caregivers, caregiver assistants, music teachers, cooks, methodologists, kindergarten managers and kindergarten union managers), have been actively engaged in a cycle of diverse trainings including age-appropriate and development-appropriate teaching of children under 6 (including children with disabilities), partnership and communication with parents, and inclusive preschool education. 170 preschool practitioners received 3-stage-cycle-supported supervision and 350 early and preschool education workers were trained.
Reflected in memoranda with Local Governments throughout Georgia are a number of priorities related to the training of practitioners, infrastructural assessment and redesign of kindergartens, and developing of inclusive preschool education services.
In 2015, WVG successfully joined the ongoing process ‘Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Development Coalition’ which involved the establishment and development of strategic documentation. Today, WVG is working in close communication, and has plans of future collaboration, with 22 institutions that promote ECI related services in Georgia, including MOES, OSI, UNICEF, local governments of 7 WVG target municipalities and other NGOs which are members of the ECI coalition. WVG has contributed to advocacy for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) referral procedures, in collaboration with other interested organizations, to the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs.
WVG has taken significant steps in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Imereti to increase the engagement of children with disabilities and make preschool education accessible for children with special needs. This was achieved through the hiring of inclusive preschool education and development specialists (IPEDS) for Baghdati and Akhaltsikhe municipality Kindergarten Unions, who commenced work directly with the Local Government in May, 2015, and ensured that children with disabilities in the target communities were identified, assessed and had access to kindergarten services. IPEDS provide consultancy services for municipality kindergartens and report to the Kindergarten Union (municipal structure). They plan and support the process of inclusion of children with disabilities/special needs by carrying out relevant trainings and workshops for children with disabilities/special needs and their parents.
The advocacy and negotiation with the municipality to hire IPEDS within the Kindergarten Union was approved. This promotes accessibility to early and preschool services for 0-6-year-old children (including children with disabilities and/or special needs). In the first months, 10 children with disabilities were outreached and included in kindergartens in Imereti ADP and 7 in Samtskhe-Javakheti. As initially negotiated and agreed with the Local Governments of each municipality, if the initiative proves to be effective, the municipalities will take over both the funding of the inclusive preschool education and the salaries of the IPEDS, sustaining them as a part of the system. In Kakheti, WVG sought to identify the challenges and needs affecting child development. For this purpose we partnered with one of the local NGOs - CIDA.
The WVG Early Childhood Development Technical Program Implementation ensures that communities possess the necessary awareness and skills to address their needs effectively in the future. Worthy of note are Imereti ADP’s aims to focus on preschool education-related issues to be linked with CP&A.
In order to ensure that communities are provided with opportunities for local development, Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kakheti ADPs implement Strong Local Governance through an Enhanced Civil Participation project funded through the European Commission and World Vision Germany. Through this initiative we support local communities to identify major issues for advocacy and begin dialogue with the Local Government to address those community needs.
World Vision supported 41 kindergartens to develop information packages of priorities, additions and recommendations with regard to Early Childhood Development services, elaborated and advocated, to be considered in municipal plans and budgets provision.
Three Kindergarten infrastructural needs were resolved in active collaboration with target municipalities of Kakheti, Imereti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. One kindergarten was rehabilitated in Kakheti, two in Imereti, and two in Samtskhe-Javakheti.