Preschool Reimagined

A new model for early learning is giving refugee children a strong start

More than 350,000 Darfuri people from neighboring Sudan currently reside in the refugee camps of Eastern Chad. And, as with most ongoing conflicts, international funding to provide health care, education, and other services for these refugees is inconsistent and unreliable.

i‑Activism, an organization that has been working in the region since 2005, started a preschool here in 2011, seeking to provide both early learning opportunities and trauma support for the young children of the area. Using a play-based curriculum, the school—called Little Ripples—trains local women as teachers, who provide children with language, literacy, and mathematics lessons, in addition to socio-emotional support and peace-building skills.

After a few years of running Little Ripples with encouraging results among both refugee children and their teachers, the i‑Act team hatched a new plan: Take what works in a brick-and-mortar school setting and apply it in a new way. Entering the third Amplify challenge, they proposed a system of ponds,” an innovative new approach to in-home preschools, which could scale much faster and serve children in their own communities.

In the months following the Amplify bootcamp, i‑Act prototyped the first few Little Ripples Ponds, testing various ways to support teachers in this new, less-structured environment. In 2016, they are piloting the program on a larger scale, and—based off of their early success—have already began to explore other contexts where the approach may be applicable.

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