The World Bank
In recent years understanding of the importance of Early Child Development (ECD) policy and programs to social and economic development has increased tremendously. African governments, the World Bank, multilateral donors, and local ECD agencies have identified the need to greatly expand programs for children from 0-8 years. Taking such programs to scale requires reliable baseline information, and functional monitoring capacity within country ECD programs. One of the largest constraints to launching, implementing, and supporting ECD projects and programs in Africa has been the lack of technical facilities and skills to provide, organize and access information for ECD program planning and monitoring.
Over three years, the ECD IMPACT project will support the creation of national information resource and training centers with electronic knowledge and data bases related to early child development in 15-20 African countries. The resource centers will manage national ECD web sites presenting information on policies, research, statistics, programs, and services. The Education Department (HDNED) and the Africa Region of the World Bank will integrate these web sites across the Africa Region.. These data bases and the on-going training in data use that the resource centers will provide will:
African ECD specialists will develop these resource centers, data bases and web sites, taking into account all relevant issues of access, confidentiality, attribution, and intellectual property. Special attention will be given to information on indigenous knowledge on care giving and child rearing practices, the situation of children in vulnerable circumstances such as children affected by HIV/AIDS, AIDS and conflict-related orphans, and children with special needs.
In each participating country the project will bring together local technicians and ECD experts for a series of training sessions and workshops during which the database will be created. The ‘product’, an ECD electronic MIS in the form of web pages for easy data access, will be disseminated to a wider group of ECD stakeholders and NGOs for ECD program development and training purposes first and foremost in the respective countries. Wider regional and international dissemination of the knowledge base via country web-sites and the integrated Africa regional site will facilitate information sharing and will strengthen peer support for ECD advocacy and policy development.
ECD programs emphasize the synergistic effects of health, nutrition, and stimulation in the early years. The World Bank’s approach to ECD is to develop, in collaboration with the government concerned, programs for improved care for children of pre-primary school age in vulnerable circumstances, in terms of their (a) cognitive and language development (recognizing the local language and cultural context), (b) health, (c) nutrition, and (d) psycho-social and motor development. Programs in conflict or post-conflict countries also include post-trauma counseling for children and caregivers. The approach stresses close collaboration with community based organizations which are often supported by national and international NGOs, and bi- and multilateral donors.
The IMPACT initiative uniquely links local capacity building and training with information management and ECD planning and programming. The added value of the series of training activities is that they also provide a cross-cutting forum within countries and eventually across the Africa region for discussions, networking and ECD program coordination underpinning the multi-sectoral nature of ECD programs. The project builds sustainable capacity in that ECD agencies in collaboration with the private sector will assemble their own resources and groups of sponsors for creation and maintenance of the knowledge base/web-site. With very few exceptions, project funding will be used for in-country training, technical assistance, and on-going professional advice only.
Building on other ECD capacity building efforts in Africa the IMPACT project creates linkages with the ECD Virtual University initiative (ECDVU), former and future thematic ECD Institutes and Summer Schools developed by the ECD Network for Africa (ECDNA) in collaboration with UNICEF and the University of Victoria, Canada, and the African ECD International Conference which was co-financed by the World Bank and held in September 1999 in Kampala, Uganda. Participants of this conference identified three key elements crucial for strategic ECD program planning and implementation at national level: Firstly, a comprehensive, easy accessible Africa ECD knowledge; secondly, increased local capacity to collect, maintain and use ECD data for decision-making and advocacy; and thirdly, networking and information sharing within and between African countries. The IMPACT project will integrate capacity building in these three areas at local, district, national, and international levels, to plan, coordinate and implement ECD programs and services more effectively.
While the national ECD resource, documentation, and training centers could be within government ministries, they might also be located at Universities, local NGOs, or other institutions. The process of data collection and information generation would closely involve ECD stakeholders at all levels. They would be the main contributors to the knowledge base by documenting country based programs and initiatives and by sharing their professional expertise. Besides supporting World Bank co-financed ECD programs, the database would prioritize information needed by the programs and initiatives of these stakeholders.
The project will be coordinated by Simone Kirpal (Technical Task Manager, HDNED, the World Bank), and Susan Opper (Project Director for the Africa Region, AFTH4, the World Bank). An international steering committee and two regional advisory committees (one for the francophone and one for the anglophone project component) with representatives from the international ECD community will closely be attached to the project. The international steering committee would give advise on the overall objectives and implementation of the project, whereas the members of the regional advisory committees would function as peer reviewers regarding the content of the county-level ECD knowledge and data bases.
Project implementation will be decentralized and contracted out. Two regional training centers, one for francophone and one for anglophone African countries will implement the project, conduct the series of training workshops and sessions, and provide on-going technical assistance. The Senegalese NGO, 'Centre de Ressource pour l’Emergence Sociale Participative' (CRESP), will implement the francophone component under the supervision of Marian Zeitlin, co-director of CRESP and regional program director for this project. For the anglophone component a regional training center which ideally would combine Internet and ECD expertise (highly skilled technical personnel, ECD expert(s), and a fully equipped computer lab with sufficient Internet connectivity would be required) is yet to be identified.
During the first 18 months of the project (April 1, 2000 – September 30, 2001) CRESP will assist in the creation of an ECD electronic knowledge and data base for Senegal, Burundi, Guinea, Eritrea, and Kenya. These knowledge bases would serve as pilots, providing models and language template pages for other African countries. During the start-up phase of the anglophone component CRESP will also assist to build the capacity of a regional ECD training facility for participating anglophone African countries.
Project implementation costs for training and on-going technical assistance per country are estimated to range between US$30.000 - US$40.000. To date the World Bank has secured start-up funds to implement the project in 4-5 African countries during the first project year. For broader outreach and greater impact the project is designed to have about 15-20 countries participating over a three year period, and co-financing is still needed for the 2nd and 3rd project year.
Complementary to the ‘IMPACT’ project the World Bank's ECD group is currently developing an African regional chapter to be included in the World Bank's ECD web-site. This could at a later stage become the ‘homepage’ for the IMPACT knowledge bases and could support international dissemination of the ECD information collected at country level. The African chapter will include general information on ECD policymaking, case studies, HIV/AIDS, ECD in post-conflict situations, links to international statistics, child related international documents and bi- and multilateral agencies which have ECD projects in Africa.
Combined efforts from the international ECD community, and from African ECD agencies in particular, are required to make the IMPACT initiative a success. For further information and details regarding the project, please contact:
Regional Program Director: