Preschool Education for Rural Ethiopia and Its Impact on Early Schooling: Lessons from a Project-based Initiative in North Shewa
As efforts are made to expand preschool education to rural parts of Ethiopia, one important challenge is contextual relevance of the program. The present study aimed to examine a project-based initiative at contextualizing preschool education for children in rural Ethiopia in order to sort out its impact on early schooling and to draw lessons from the contextualization approach. Mixed research design with the concurrent triangulation strategy was applied to conduct the study. Three out of the five project Districts were selected considering accessibility via road transport. Proportional sampling was used to take 11 preschool centers from the 62 preschools in the three Districts. Data was collected from tracer study of preschool completers based on school rosters and interview with the children, parents, preschool educators, grade one teachers, school principals and project officers. Analysis of the data applied both statistical tools and themes drawn from reading and re-reading of the data. The result revealed that the particular preschool initiative has adapted the program to the rural community along curriculum, pedagogical approaches, resource use, and engagement of core stakeholders. Through devising local means, it could overcome many of the challenges which are often thought to have limited preschool provision in the rural areas. Results have been documented in terms of improved preschool enrollment, scholastic achievement during early grades, better social/behavioral skills, and reduced grade one dropout rate. Based on that, it is concluded that adaptation of preschool provision based on the community's assets seems a feasible approach for the rural areas.
Keywords: Curriculum contextualization; Early schooling; Preschool education; Rural Ethiopia