Involvement of the Roger Federer Foundation

In 2011, the Roger Federer Foundation and Action Aid Malawi launched a ten-year initiative to improve substantively early childhood education in Malawi and to systemically change its education landscape. The programme was realized thanks to the generous and long-term support of Credit Suisse. The overall budget will be around 13 million CHF. The initiative has reached its mid-point and has been evaluated twice. The fundamental set-up proved effective, although some components were changed and others stepped up.

By 2020, the programme will be rolled out in 80 areas in eight districts of the country. A model kindergarten is set up in each area that publicises the desired early education standard in the country and offers people a reference point: the learning environment is safe, child-friendly and stimulating, the kindergarten teachers are qualified and promote the potential of the children to the greatest extent possible, children receive a balanced meal on a daily basis, and parents are involved in the early education of their children. 

In a second stage, satellite kindergartens are integrated into the programme around the model kindergartens that had been established earlier. For each model kindergarten, there is an average of five existing satellites. Although these satellites do not receive the full infrastructural support of the model kindergartens, we hope that they are motivated and inspired by them and, as a result, will move closer to the model of their own initiative. 

The mid-term evaluation has confirmed the following results: 

  • To date, 47,000 children have received access to kindergarten education of an acceptable to very good standard.
  • The mental, cognitive, and spiritual development of a control group of 10% of all children was measured after two years of early education. At the start of the programme, 37% of all children had age-appropriate development and passed the corresponding tests; last year, this figure was 65%.
  • The children in the first few classes since the introduction of the programme are already in the second class of primary school. Here, the development of a control group is being observed over the long term, but it can already be stated that 89% of the children from our kindergartens are at or above the class average in terms of performance. 24% are even among the best for their age group.
  • The evaluators were particularly impressed with the quality of the infrastructure of the new or renovated model kindergartens. They have child-friendly sanitary facilities, three classrooms with stimulating learning materials, a kitchen, a storage room, and a children's play area. The water supply for the kindergartens also meets the standard.
  • This attractive learning environment had a great impact on attendance rates, which rose by an average of 614%. The rates at the satellite kindergartens have tripled in some districts, and have at least doubled in all other districts.
  • At the start of the programme, 95% of all kindergarten teachers had never received training in early education. The quality of instruction was correspondingly low in the base study - it reached 33% on average. Today, all kindergarten teachers have received formal training and quality averages 75%. The measurement includes satellite kindergartens that have much simpler infrastructures than the model kindergartens.
  • The changes among parents are impressive. At the start of the programme, an average of 30% of parents actively supported their children at home. Now, 64% of parents are actively involved in the early development of their children and in the kindergarten, and they also carry out early childhood development activities at home.
  • Finally, 68% of the village communities organise regular nutritious meals for the kindergartens, thus improving the children's nutritional status. This figure is below expectations, as floods over the past year were a big problem for food security. However, the commitment of the communities and the personal initiative are great, which are fundamental to maintaining the established quality of kindergartens over the long-term. In our view, this should be the case in 80% of the kindergartens.

Our implementing partner ActionAid Malawi

ActionAid Malawi (AAIM) is a non-governmental, national development organisation founded in Malawi in 1990. Although a member of the international federation of over 40 national ActionAid organisations with the base in South Africa, AAIM is a 100% local NGO, decides and operates independently and is managed exclusively by local employees. AAIM concentrates on poverty reduction and is active within 14 districts in Malawi, having specialised in rural and remote areas in long-term programs. Among AAIM's particular concerns are the integration of and shared responsibility with local communities. As a consulting organisation to the Malawian Government, AAIM makes the voice of this rather ostracised part of society heard in the country's capital.

www.actionaid.org/malawi/

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Malawi Facts

Population
15 Mio
Compulsory education
5-12 years
Enrolment ratio
primary 86%, secondary girls 13%
Illiteracy rate
38%
Nutrition
19% of children under 5 are undernourished

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