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RIB Briefing paper

Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB), is a Bangladeshi non-profit research support organization which over the past eight years had been working with marginalized communities in deprived regions of the country. As a research support organization RIB has specialized in participatory action methods, which has enabled processes of mobilization and outreach to many underserved communities, such as the Dalits (untouchables) marginal farmers and indigenous people. This has been possible because one of the principles that underlie such method is the recognition that peoples experiences are just as important as specialized knowledge and synergy developed between the two, peoples experience and expertise help, can lead to successful programs. RIB has demonstrated several such programs including the 100 Kajoli early childhood centres around the country, as well as the organization of groups of people researchers (Gonogobeshoks) who, through self-management skills, operate the management of a paddy bank and a seed bank to offset the impact of Monga or seasonal famine in the district of Nilphamari. Overall RIB strategy inside the Rohingya camps in Coxs Bazar District RIBs participatory methods engage both research (in generating knowledge of peoples needs and strategies) and developmental outcomes (e.g. in enabling access to services either through self-management skills or through advocacy of their fundamental rights). RIBs expertise lies in participatory action research which is used to bring the people in the community together to decide what are the problems and the gaps in the community, following which RIB will support the community in resolving their own conflicts and addressing their needs. Furthermore, RIB builds on the existing community structures, by strengthening linkages between people and already existing organizations/institutions with the focus of building the capacity of the community to address their own problems and strengthen self-reliance and self management practices that will engage the community in improving their own situation as much as possible. RIBs is to assess the need for early childhood education in these communities and to determine if the residents of the two camps would be interested in supporting this initiative. The early childhood learning model is aimed specifically at attracting children from the poorest communities to education, dispelling the notion among parents that education is a difficult and costly process. Such an early childhood learning centre would develop an interest among these children to continue studies at a later stage in their lives. A key to success and sustainability of such model is to ensure participation and ownership of the local community in the management and operation of the centre. In order to ensure the communitys involvement in the affairs of running the centre, as well as cultivate good parenting habits among mothers of the children, an animator trained in participatory action research would be appointed and s(he) would facilitate community support as well. RIB would also feed into the existing community self help structures that has been already developed by existing NGOs e.g. women volunteers, a community outreach programme based on participatory action research in which animators will receive training so that they can help the community to engage in a process of self-enquiry and action that would support existing activities like womens support groups as well as generate new actions of self-development. Pre-school children, teachers and mothers: The children of the early childhood centres must be approximately 5 to 6 years of age. They must come from families that generally live below the poverty line. Thus they must be from families who have low income and also those who may be socially excluded. The parents of these children generally would not have high school education. They should be both boys and girls but the

proportion may vary according to the area and availability of children of that age. Associated with Kajoli are also teachers who should ideally be women and residents of the community who would be selected on criteria of passing grade eight as a minimal qualification, and someone who enjoys being with children. Two local animators in each camp will be trained to coordinate all activities related to the Kajoli centres. Demographic Projection The children, after graduating Kajoli will be in a position to catch up with students of Class 1 and will be able to follow the curriculum easily and with less support, making it easier for a teacher to teach classes that are big in size. A school-going habit will have also been inculcated in them. Even if for reasons of their refugee situation, they are unable to gain access to further schooling, then they will at least have some basic literacy and numeracy skills. The Kajoli centres have the potentiality to continue to work even after the project period, because a group of animators and teachers who will be trained during the project period would engage mothers and the community in resource generation activities to make Kajoli centres sustainable with support from the camp authorities. Joint events like children fairs participated by teachers, children and their parents, will be held with the purpose to both demonstrate the achievements of Kajoli centres to the camp residents as well as forge solidarity among the centres and the Mothers associations formed. It should facilitate the cultivation of good parenting habits. The community programme on the other hand will survive through the various activities that the community may take up, albeit for their own subsistence since the camp environment is not conducive for income generation. Activities like homestead gardening, which can be taken up for subsistence in a small space, will ensure nutritional enhancement of children as well as the cultivation of self-management skills. This will hopefully proliferate into existing structures of management within the camp especially those set up forhe youth theatre group will provide a creative space to vent feelings against injustice and communicate to others about the different needs of camp residents. Needless to say it will be a creative way to constructively channel the energy of young people so that positive messages could be shared with the rest of the Implementation Arrangements Early Childhood Education Kajoli Model RIB under this project will expand its already existing national program to the two camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya Upazila to develop an early childhood learning model aimed specifically at attracting pre-school age children to early education, 3 classes per camp (25-30 students per group) will initially be established from children not already participating in early childhood education. Preparatory phase: RIB will conduct some ground-making activities to identify and select the children and teachers and animators. The video of Kajoli Model will be shown to orient camp residents to this program. Identification of animator in each camp: The animators will be trained by RIB. They facilitate community support in finding/locating a learning space for children identifying children for enrolment, and hiring a teacher for the school. Training: RIB will train the teachers and animators. The initial training of teachers and coordinators (i.e. the animators of the community outreach program) will take place in the respective camp itself. It

will be a three day training where resource persons will be brought from other RIB projects for sharing and exchange. Selection of students: After receiving the initial training, teachers and coordinators will within two weeks select children for enrolment and find appropriate space for the school. With the support of RIB regional coordinator, they will hold meetings with the parents to discuss the feeding programme, and other managerial issues of the school and set up the schools management committees Setting up and starting of classes: Under RIBs supervision, the teachers, supervisors /coordinator/animator will assist in setting up materials like blackboard, pocket board etc. Most importantly, the coordinator and the teacher will sit with the mothers of the children. - The centres will be open 4 hours a day for 26 days, i.e. closed on Fridays; the time will be set locally by the community and mothers. - Supplies and equipment: RIB shall ensure regular supply of educational material and materials for the schools. - Meetings: the coordinators (animators) will meet every two weeks within the project area to compare notes about their progress. Their mentors will be present in these meetings and may also go on field visits with the animators and will give further advice. Enrolment of Kajoli graduates into regular primary schools within the camps: The coordinators, with support from RIB, will follow up on the enrolment of Kajoli graduates to primary school. Kagoli is seen as a way of complimenting the already existing program and not duplication. It is envisaged that children who graduate from Kagoli will have a greater desire and capacity to go onto formal schooling grade schooling. Shaun Nemorin Associate Community Services Officer