Growing Older, Getting Bolder: A New Look at Lifelong Learning in Jordan

Monday 10 December 2012

Save the Children's Early Childhood Education (ECE) program is a component of the Education Reform Support Program (ERSP), a USAID funded program in partnership with Creative Associates International. The ECE activities aim specifically to build the capacity of teachers, principals, and supervisors in order to provide high-quality early childhood education to children at the kindergarten level.

“Learning to read and write at the KG with my daughter is the greatest joy of my life, I am not only a better mother but also a better person,” said Shtaieh Rawajfeh, a mother involved in the program.

In a relatively spacious, full of children kindergarten in Dalagha near Petra, the activities provide opportunities for children to learn to function within a group (taking turns, sharing, listening), read the basic alphabets and numbers. Students learn to express and communicate thoughts and ideas through speaking, listening, and writing. Among the ‘students’ is Shtaieh Rawajfeh, a 41-years-old mother of two (Sukaina and Zayed, 7 and 5-years-old).

Shtaieh Rawajfeh, 41, at the classroom in Dalagha Kindergarten KG, where she`s volunteering and participating in the Parental Involvement Program (PIP)

Shtaieh's experience, despite being an “older” participant in the Parental Involvement Program (PIP), has a new dimension, as she started as an illiterate woman attending KG to support her daughter`s education, only to become involved and benefit herself as well.

“It was a surprise for me when Shtaieh started reading the numbers for children,” said Amani Al- Ghenemat, a teacher at the KG, who`s involved in the program.

Through the ECE program, Save the Children assists the Ministry of Education’s ECE Division in providing quality access to public kindergartens. Save the Children does this through improving children’s readiness for school, the physical learning environment, building the capacity of the ECE staff at both the central and field level, and encouraging the parents to participate in their children’s development.

Shtaieh started volunteering in the program last year, unable to read or write. But with a strong memorizing skills, Shtaieh`s participation involved telling stories to children she learned by ear from her childhood. With time, she started re-telling stories she hears from the teacher. By the end of the year, with intensive work with the children, she was able to read just like them, first by recognizing the basic alphabets, numbers shapes and sounds of letters, spelling words, to gradually reading and writing full sentences.

“Usually parents volunteer to support the teacher and encourage children, Shtaieh proves that parents can also benefit, in this case the benefit was a lifelong learning in her older years,” Al Ghenemat said.

PIP program was piloted under the previous Education Reform for Knowledge Economy – ERfKE I/ ESP USAID funded which supports the Ministry of Education (MoE) to develop a parental involvement program in all public KGs. USAID continued supporting the new phase of ERfKE II through ERSP to upscale the PIP to more KGs and implement it in grades 1-3 within the Early Childhood Component that Save the Children is implementing.

“Learning to read and write at the KG with my daughter is the greatest joy of my life, I am not only a better mother but also a better person,” Shtaieh said.