In July 2020 kids in Year 9E at Prince Andrew Community Secondary School on Saint Helena Island raised £181.15 for Foundation First. In deciding how to raise money for us, the kids got together in their house groups and each group came up with their own strategy. The four houses at Prince Andrew School (Cavendish, Dutton, Jenkins and Mundens) are named after prominent people in the island’s history.
Cavendish House decided to make and sell prawn crackers; Dutton decided to make and sell pop corn, cakes and hot chocolate, as well as to sell canned drinks, Jenkins chose to make and sell brownies, whilst Mundens went for a ‘guess how many sweets are in the jar’ strategy. Items and ingredients were generously donated by the kids themselves, their relatives and teachers.
This fundraising initiative took place during lunch hours over the middle two weeks of July and was advertised via posters and word of mouth. Cavendish sold their prawn crackers in a classroom, Dutton and Jenkins combined forces to sell theirs in both a classroom and busy central hallway and Mundens went around the school asking other kids to guess the number of sweets in their jar.
Cavendish House raised £21, Dutton and Jenkins (combined) raised £112, Mundens raised £27 and £21.15 was donated by various people. Many thanks to everyone who provided donations.
We decided to spend £150 of their generous donation on two sets of wooden blocks for children to play with at the construction centre in the two kindergarten classrooms of a school that we support in a marginalized community. The remaining £31.15 will be spent on 45 sheets of manila card, 10 packets of crayons and some glue for children to get creative with in the school’s nursery classroom.
Foundation First is currently providing technical support to Pencils of Promise in consolidating its teacher support programme through a reference manual for teachers that is aligned with the new standards-based curriculum. As well as supporting teachers with innovative resources, PoP builds safe schools and supports students with health programming in order to increase educational outcomes. Our partnership’s joint goal is to improve literacy outcomes in public schools across underserved communities by improving the quality of literacy teaching and learning in public primary schools in the Volta, Oti and Eastern regions of Ghana. The work is geared towards equipping teachers with the skills and opportunity to fully engage learners through fun and entertaining games and activities, which develop their social, emotional skills as well as their cognitive and physical development.
Foundation First’s recent focus has been on how to maintain young children’s educational opportunities, both while schools have been closed and after they reopen. We have also initiated a health education programme to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Our view has always been that one of the functions of basic education is to promote health. We believe that, to keep healthy, a young child needs to develop their skills in interacting with others and their abilities such as reasoning and self-regulation, as well as developing skills in the national curriculum content areas. The coronavirus has thrown these needs into sharp relief and placed hygiene and health centre stage, especially for the least advantaged. Given that the World Health Organization and similar agencies prioritize hand washing in tackling coronavirus, it seems obvious to us to prioritize it with young children, in conjunction with developing their interaction and reasoning skills etc.
We are particularly concerned about young children living in remote and under-resourced localities. Along with their families and communities, these children were disadvantaged before COVID-19 came along, and now their disadvantage has increased. An illustration of this is that their more fortunate peers have access at present to technological home-schooling solutions (e.g. learning by TV, radio, SMS) while they do not.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the learning most needed at the moment by young children such as these involves developing their awareness and skills in relation to hygiene and health.
We are working with our partners to convey to underprivileged families with young children the message that frequent, thorough hand washing with soap and water is the main way of preventing coronavirus.
We elaborate on what we mean by ‘thorough’ and we emphasize which daily activities must be preceded by hand washing if good hygiene is to be maintained. Other aspects of reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 (and, indeed, any illness) are also dealt with. These measures are aimed at improving the long-term health benefits of families as well as potentially saving lives in the short term.