Testimonial of the Birth of the ACCESS Preschool Program
Pictured is Dr. Robert Kalyesubula, along with the pre-school coordinator, and the children and the parents enrolled in the preschool program. The children are seated in tables and chairs donated by KLM Dutch Airlines.
By Dr. Robert Kalyesubula, President ACCESS-Uganda, 2015
A young leader shows the way for empowering children under 5 years to learn in Nakaseke.
It all began with a visit to the remote village of Nakaseke. When Grace Herrick came to visit our organization in Nakaseke called ACCESS (African Community Centre for Social Sustainability), she was just like any other 16-year-old girl. Little did we know that an angel had visited our village.
During one of the village visits, Grace noticed that a 5-year old girl was at home at 11:00 am, a time when school going children are supposed to be in school. On further inquiry, she learned that there were no nursery schools in the area for early childhood development and that children had to wait until they were six years of age to be eligible for universal primary education.
This did not go down well with the charismatic young Grace who said that her parents began to read for her since she was in her mother’s womb. She would not have this situation continue for long.
After a month Grace sent us an e-mail saying that she wanted to set up a program for children to learn and play at ACCESS. We were pleasantly surprised and offered all our support. We wondered why we had not considered this option for the last 8 years. Moving forward, Grace was able to work with her parents and several other supporters to ensure that an early childhood development project got set up.
We currently have close to 45 children from 8 villages* who regularly attend weekend sessions to learn how to read, play and write escorted by their guardians. What is unique about this opportunity is that children who would otherwise have no chance to attend school come together and not only learn but have an opportunity to play and have nutritious meals.
The program offers different forms of entertainment including a wide screen TV screen where the kids watch cartoons which their parents have no capacity to give to them. In the process parents and guardians of these children have taken on the role of ensuring that no child is left behind once the time comes to start school.
This project is now on its way, growing because many other partners are able to see the potential impact it has on changing the lives of the children. In the early month of September 2017, KLM Dutch Airlines visited the children together with their parents and was able to offer them reading materials, chairs, desks and plenty of toys.
We are very grateful for this support and look forward to making the program accessible to many more children and also offer a variety of activities that will encourage children to learn how to learn while having fun.
* 2019 Update to Dr. Robert's Testimonial
We now support 60 children from 14 different villages in our preschool program. Our play-based preschool program teaches S.T.E.M. based learning, cognitive skills, music, and English.