June 02, 2017

See the world through a child's eyes ... young children in Malawi learn through play and drawing

Children doing their drawings at a preschool run by RIPPLE Africa

Elaine Hunter

Early childhood development writer

As part of Theirworld's #5for5 campaign for early childhood development, we asked preschool children in different countries to draw something about their day or their family. Here we visit Malawi.

Do we really know what goes on in a young child’s mind? What are they thinking or feeling? How do they express themselves?

We have a bit of an insight - thanks to some pre-schoolers in Malawi, Mexico, Nepal and Palestine.

As part of Theirworld's #5for5 campaign, we asked charity and school workers to speak to children and ask them to draw something about their day or their family. 

#5for5 is calling on world leaders to invest in early childhood development. All young children need access to quality care including nutrition, health, learning, play and protection. Having fun, exploring the world and learning through play is a vital part of that.

World leaders are meeting in Germany in July at the G20 Summit to agree their priorities and what they should fund. We need them to prioritise the early years and especially pre-primary education, especially for the poorest and most marginalised children.

The children in the gallery below are from northern Malawi and attend preschools. Some have to walk for half an hour to get there in the morning, after doing chores.

The preschools are run by RIPPLE Africa (a UK-registered charity working in Malawi since 2003) and support many children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and are living with extended family.

Pam Haigh, RIPPLE’s UK General Manager, said: “We run large-scale environmental projects and more local educational and healthcare projects near our base in northern Malawi.

Irene is eight. She still attends preschool because of development delay due to seizures. She speaks Chitonga. She lives with her mum and dad and has five siblings. Irene loves to sing and dance and play hide and seek. Her favourite colour is blue. Before preschool she helped collect water from the well.

This is Irene's drawing.

Memory is five. She lives near preschool with her mum and dad and has six siblings.

This is Memory's drawing. Memory was up before sunrise and walked to preschool. She loves playing football with friends. Her favourite toy is the swing set at pre-school.

Robin is six. He lives with his mum and dad and has eight siblings. He walked over 30 minutes to get to preschool. When he starts school in September he will attend Matete primary. He loves playing with balls and laughing when people say something funny. His favourite colour is blue. After preschool he was looking forward to playing with his friends and having nsima for lunch.

This is Robin's drawing.

Austin is five and lives with his Nana and five siblings. His favourite colour is red. His favourite toy is a ball and he loves any games with a ball. He was awake before the sun came up and bathed in a bucket before walking to preschool with his friends across the M5, one of the main roads in Malawi.

This is Austin's drawing.

Dyna is four and has four siblings. She walks 30 minutes to preschool.

This is Dyna's drawing. Before coming to school she helped to sweep outside. Her favourite toys are the dolls at preschool. She likes running around with friends and being tickled. Her favourite colour is green. She loves having tea and sweet potato at preschool.

Moses is six. He will start school at Mwaya primary in September. He’s very active and loves running around. His favourite toy at pre-school is the puppets but at home he loves his milk carton car. Moses loves learning about numbers and letters at preschool. His favourite colour is blue.

“We have eight thriving preschools.  Unlike primary education, preschools receive no funding from the government and RIPPLE Africa pays for 26 preschool teachers, a preschool co-ordinator, staff training, building maintenance, resources.

"We also provide a nutritious hot lunch, as many of the children who attend the preschools are malnourished.

“The preschools each support large numbers of children - some more than 100. These are children of local subsistence farmers and fishermen, and many are orphaned through HIV/AIDS and are being cared for by extended family. 

'We are helping them start their educational journey and giving them an opportunity to learn through play.

We are a children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

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