Early Childhood Development: Looking for “lighthouse” models

by Genevieve Ding

On 23 January 2019, members of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Member Interest Group came together at Lien Foundation to explore how they could join forces to create greater social impact throughout the ECD ecosystem.

Since the last meeting in October 2018, APC has been mapping members’ philanthropic efforts within the ECD landscape and exploring new ECD models for rural areas and urban slums.

A review during the meeting revealed that members are mostly focused on redressing supply side constraints by building capacity and looking for new “lighthouse” models in the areas of early childhood education (ECE), and child and maternal health development.

Laurence Lien, APC’s CEO emphasised the importance of research
and advocacy (R&A) in ECD.  There is also a need to focus on demand side factors addressing the lack of awareness from the community, parents and government on the significance of ECE, he emphasised.

He cited Lien Foundation’s Vital Voices and Starting Well as examples of R&A projects.  While most research is produced for the third sector and government bodies, there is a lack of research targeted at the general public and parents specifically.  A multi-stakeholder philanthropic approach to ECD seems to be key.

A highlight of the meeting was Care Corner’s presentation of Circle of Care, a holistic preschool education model that leverages the various strengths and services already present in Care Corner — social work, early childhood education, counselling, educational therapy — and pulls them into a web of care.  This is a programme originally funded by Lien Foundation, and now also joined by Quantedge Foundation in phase 3.

The sustainability of the model was a focused point of discussion, in particular, if the exit strategy is for the government to replicate the model at scale.  Laurence explained that convergence with government models takes time, however, if one seeks government collaboration and approval from the start, one needs to be prepared to compromise from the beginning.

The last agenda of the meeting was a sharing of cost-effective, scalable models that could be replicated easily in disadvantaged areas.  One example is RIECE (Reducing Inequality through Early Childhood Education), a low-cost programme in Thailand adopting the HighScope Perry Pre-school approach.  RIECE innovates teaching processes that do not require costly teaching aids or special equipment.

Members were also interested in social enterprise models that could help finance projects in vulnerable communities.  The long-term sustainability of projects is a challenge many members face.  Another organisation is OneSky, with its Factory/Migrant Model, which addresses the children of factory workers around industrial estates, providing replicable home-based care provider training and parenting classes.

The intention moving forward is for the Member Interest Group to narrow its focus to one model that could be replicated in the region.  The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for 23 April 2019.

For more information or to get involved, kindly reach out to info@asiaphilanthropycircle.org