Strengthening the Parent-Child Relationship in Tanzania
In the Mara region of Tanzania, learning outcomes among primary school students are poor and below the national average. One of many reasons for why boys and girls struggle in school is they were not well prepared when they enter primary school.
Babies start learning from birth, yet it is uncommon for parents in Mara to provide adequate stimulation and early learning activities through play and communication with their children during the early years of 0-4. Additionally, nursery schools or early childhood learning centers are rare. When children’s brains are not adequately stimulated, the consequences on a child’s educational achievement are long-term and start in the pre-primary and primary school years.
To address these early education gaps for young children in Mara, PCI designed an innovative model called Education Cascade Groups that is integrated within PCI’s current Food for Education program.
Through the Education Cascade Groups, PCI is strengthening the parent-child relationship and promoting early learning among children between two and four years of age.
First Teacher Groups engage 12 parents and their children on a weekly basis through lessons and activities facilitated by community volunteers. During the group meets, both children and caregivers learn together through song, play, drawing, counting, and storytelling.
Over time, these efforts build the capacity of parents to provide nurturing, responsive care and early learning opportunities in their home, preparing children for pre-primary school and for success later in life. Home visits are conducted among caregivers to follow up and assess parenting behavior change and child acquisition of key developmental milestones promoted in the group sessions.
In just two years, PCI formed 160 First Teacher Groups in 80 villages. The program has made significant improvements in caregiver parenting and early learning practices, including the availability of playthings in the home.
Engaging Men in India to Improve Nutrition and Family Planning
In the Bihar region of India, under the Jeevika Technical Support Program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, PCI implements a male engagement project designed to test several innovative solutions for engaging men as a channel for promoting more equitable gender relations, joint household decision-making practices, and improved family planning and nutrition outcomes.
The project leverages the self-help group platform in Bihar, where health and nutrition interventions are emerging as an important pathway to improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health outcomes.
In partnership with Dalberg, PCI is designing creative solutions using Human-Centered Design and other behavioral science approaches. PCI then tests the solutions to generate evidence for use at scale. The project brings in a pool of internal and external thematic experts from the very beginning of the project. These experts, with India-specific and global expertise on domains of male engagement, family planning, nutrition and gender, provide strategic recommendations and guidance in informing, triangulating and fine-tuning the learnings and validating the solution concepts.
Pilot testing of design concepts explores how the user group reacts to and engages with the different ways of engaging men in family planning and nutrition and provides an opportunity to refine them in response to real-world feedback. The final outputs and insights from the research will be shared with a wider audience, filling gaps in the knowledge base on male engagement for family planning and nutrition strategies.