In Uganda, children who arrive at school without a meal are sent home. Lack of food is a barrier to getting an education. Grace’s Promise preschool program provides a free meal to each child.
What We Do
We at Grace’s Promise, Inc. in Sandy Hook, Connecticut strive to provide free education to children in underprivileged communities. In addition, our program is also beneficial to the parents as we also train and teach them Income Generating Activities (IGAs) to elevate their economic standing.
The preschool program has an exit strategy once the children age out of the program. Parents are given opportunities to learn Income Generating Activities (IGAs) like farming, animal rearing, baking, knitting, crocheting, jewelry crafting, and many other skills to earn a sustainable income so the children can continue with their education. This enables the family to have a better chance in life and to work on their future.
The pre-school program has been operating out of the ACCESS Nursing School since March 2016. As of July 2019, it has 90 students from 14 different villages. Because the pre-school shares space with the nursing school students, it can only operate once a week. This is not ideal. We started our non-profit in order to raise funds to build a school so the children can have their own space and attend pre-school five days a week.
Curriculum Focused on Both the Children and Parents / Caregivers
To enter pre-school, a child must attend the program with a parent or caregiver so that they can directly support the child. Educating parents about the importance of exposing children to learning at an early age will improve the quality of life for the children and the parents. Even a parent who cannot read can still help their child to develop critical thinking skills.
The curriculum is designed so that both the children and their caregivers will learn basic literacy skills. Research shows that literacy improves many aspects of society, including political participation, opportunities toward democratic reforms, and social/gender/ethnic equality, and leads to a decrease in infant mortality rates.
The program coordinators periodically visit the families in the program to see if the children can read the materials they carry home and if the parents or guardians continue encouraging the children to read and learn while at home.
Our Current Education Program
STEM Curriculum and Books
A culturally relevant, pre-school STEM-based curriculum program was written that parents and children could follow, even if they were illiterate. The pre-school program is play-based with a focus on stimulation and discovery. Learning starts at birth and therefore every opportunity should be created for children to learn and play.
A lending library is also made available so that the children could take the books home. Stanford Graduate School of Education alumnus Elliott Friedlander and Professor Claude Goldenberg determined the presence of books in a home improves literacy rates.
Television an Alternative Tool for Teaching
The lack of teachers and low literacy rates in Nakaseke called for an alternative approach to teaching. One television connected to an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) allows children to self-learn/teach.
UPS is important because if the power goes out, which is common in many rural communities, children are still able to learn. A large collection of educational DVDs and CDs were shipped to Nakaseke so the children could learn.