You are here

Sport helps to rebuild post-conflict communities in Nepal

m4nh_2.jpg

Sport helps to rebuild post-conflict communities in Nepal

The Swiss Academy for Development is using an innovative teaching approach to improve the learning outcomes of children and youth affected by a decade long conflict.

Move 4 New Horizons (M4NH) is a holistic education programme designed by the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) and implemented with its grassroots partner, Dalit Welfare Organisation (DWO). It uses sport and play as part of an innovative curriculum to improve the educational and employment prospects of marginalised children and youth, especially those from a lower caste background.

Dang district, where the project is implemented, was affected by a decade long civil war (1996 – 2006). Communist logos and slogans still linger in corners of villages, in a region which was known to be a stronghold for Maoist insurgents.

The poorest communities were an easy target for political activities and the recruitment of child soldiers. Broken public infrastructure made it almost impossible for children to receive adequate health services let alone education.

Move 4 New Horizons
In 2008, M4NH was launched to find effective means to enable out-of-school children to return to the formal education system using sport and play-based teaching and learning methods to foster cognitive, psychological, physical and social development. The innovativeness of M4NH has been widely recognised: in 2011, it won the ‘UNICEF Sport for Education Award’.

The programme runs 35 education centres in 10 village clusters, using three programme components: vocational training to support youth to gain employment and enter the job market, non-formal education to prepare marginalised school-age children for transition into the formal system, and early childhood development to equip pre-school children for compulsory education.

Early childhood development

Making learning intrinsically fun, interactive and child-centred by providing multiple playful learning opportunities throughout the day, the early childhood development (ECD) component in particular has seen a multiplier effect.

The ECD programme runs from 10am to 3pm, six times a week. The programme is based on a comprehensive education curriculum including physical activities and interactive play for children aged 3-5.

While the programme achieved sustainable improvements in early learning outcomes, the impact that quality ECD classes has had, has gone even further by making communities active and reducing problems of poverty.

A wider impact
The ECD component helps alleviate the workload of mothers. Mothers are often over-burdened with tasks such as household chores, taking care of children, and maintaining the fields. In a place where it is normal that a woman spends the majority of her day working in the field with a baby on her back, the impact of the programme can be substantial.

The ECD centre is also a common place for a get-together between community mothers, especially during the parental education classes. In such meetings, mothers often talk about issues related to the well-being of their children, and enthusiastically discuss and find solutions to support ECD classes in their village, for example by collecting fire wood for the ECD centre or helping to produce handcrafted equipment and learning materials. This reflects the extent of the community buy-in, and the importance ECD centres have on their lives.

Furthermore, maintaining excellent nutrition and hygiene practices is an important component of the curriculum. This makes M4NH centres a place where good health and hygiene practices, that household members can also learn to emulate, are carried out.

The programme shows that a combination of play-based activities with a strong focus on community impact can have a lasting and positive influence on poverty alleviation in remote Nepali villages.

About

Article type

News

Author

Yu Maruyama

Published

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 23:30