Plan Uganda’s Community Led Actions for Children project is a child rights-based approach intended to prove that 100 per cent of disadvantaged children aged between 0 and 8 years in targeted high poverty communities can achieve child well‑being indicators and school success with holistic Early Childhood Care and Development support. The approach looks to enroll children in primary school on time, so they can have the same academic success as their more privileged peers.
Community Led Actions for Children demonstrates that the community-based model is a cost-effective approach to ensuring that all children, including those from poor, marginalised households, are ready to enroll and succeed in school. Consequently, Community Led Actions for Children will result in the realisation of Education for All goals 1, 2 and 3, and Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3, on expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, achieving universal primary education and achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Community Led Actions for Children is modelled on four pillars:
- Bettering the knowledge and practical skills of parents/guardians by encouraging them to discuss and act on child development, in order to improve child health, development, learning and protection;
- early learning stimulation to ensure school readiness in low cost/high quality community-managed Early Learning Centres for all children a year or two before they start primary school;
- supporting the effective transition to and quality of primary schools through school- and community-based activities that allow children to start school on time, stay in school and learn; and
- collective action to include early childhood in community and national level policies to ensure a strong foundation for young children.
These interventions are all designed to provide quality services for the children who need them most – poor children, girls, children with disabilities and children affected by conflict – in urban, post-conflict and rural areas. The participation of children from poor, marginalised households in the school readiness programme is essential to reach the goal of UPE.
Impact and effect
Community Led Actions for Children has a long-lasting impact on the lives of the most disadvantaged children in Uganda. In a recent evaluation, children benefiting from Community Led Actions for Children demonstrated better cognitive abilities, especially in early literacy and maths, in comparison to their peers in transition primary schools. The gender socialisation and gender equality emphasised in the Community Led Actions for Children programme has laid a firm foundation to ensure that girls and women have equal rights throughout their lives.
Plan Uganda will continue scaling up Community Led Actions for Children to additional communities in Uganda. Additionally, Plan will document and share its experiences and best practices emerging out of implementing the Community Led Actions for Children model with both the government and non-government actors. The ultimate desire is for the Government of Uganda and other actors in the education sector to adopt the model with necessary modification to suit different contexts, as a way of going to scale to meet the needs of more children in most need.