To learn how to care for their children and become better spouses, men and women in Taungup Township, Rakhine State are taking part in parenting groups and are demonstrating a strong understanding of the profound impact that early childhood care and education can have on their child’s future development.
Plan International Myanmar is working with local NGO the Foundation to build a community Early Childhood Care and Development Centres (ECCD) to encourage parents in the communities to learn about better parenting – particularly for children under 5 – and receive training on early stimulation and nutrition for their children. As the community did not have previous support for knowledge and resources, these centres have become a hub for information sharing and learning.
According to government data from 2011, participation in early childhood care and development (aimed at children 3-5 years of age) has more than doubled in Myanmar, compared to 10 years ago.
“The classes have helped me to become a better, more useful parent,” explains one member of the parenting class.
The women all agree that previously, they would discipline their children by speaking aggressively and raising their voice. “We had no patience,” they explain.
“But everything has improved – the way we speak, communicate, listen…even our relationships between our children and partner is better. Its all much smoother now,” adds another mother.
It is clear that these women – who come from various backgrounds – confide in one another. They speak about everything – their husbands, their financial situations and their worries. They are mothers, but above all else, they are a close group of friends.
While the women sit in their weekly parenting group, their children are down the pathway in an ECCD centre.
Accommodating more than 40 young children – ages 3 to 5 – the centre is managed by 2 young women, both aged 26, who live in the village and are trained as early childhood caretakers. The women spend their days reading to the children and encouraging playtime. “Before, the kids were rude, but now they have manners and speak politely. I think it has a lot to do with how the parents speak to the children,” comments one of the young caretakers.
“I understand that if I am a bad mother, my children will be bad. I want to be a champion, and in order to be a role model, I have to change myself first,” says the parenting leader.
Plan International Myanmar and the Yinthway Foundation have established 25 ECCD centres in Taungup Township that are attended by 2605 children aged 0-8 years old. These centres prepare older students to enter primary school and develop their literacy, numeracy and social skills.