|Gladis in Early Childhood Development|
Success Story – Early Childhood Development
Here, it is common for children to grow up working in fields, rather than in the classroom. Education is only valued if it can realistically bring income to the family. Time spent in the classroom is time spent away from farming. Whilst studies have shown that with each year of education, income-earning capacity increases accordingly, education is only more valued than labour to a family when this becomes unquestionable. This means their child having a realistic chance of completing high school successfully, a costly choice for rural families.
With up to 80% illiteracy in rural Liberia, children are disadvantaged before they enter the classroom. Daughter to two illiterate parents, both full-time farmers, Gladis’ chances of passing through primary school were slim. Lacking the fundamental foundations to learning would profoundly impede her future development and education. This is the driving force behind Africa Development Corps’ Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) in Maryland County.
Gladis was amongst 125 children from her and neighbouring villages to go through the program in the school year 2012-2013 in Yookudi. She entered the UNICEF sponsored-program as a 4 year old and spent twelve months with our dedicated teachers, learning the alphabet, basic numeracy skills and introductions to grammar, preparing her for the challenges of Primary School.
With attentive teaching and fostering of her willingness to learn she graduated from the ECD centre, passing literacy and numeracy tests and walking across the schoolyard to the Yookudi Primary School as a 5 year old. Now currently in first grade, she is at the right age to progress through primary school and enter secondary school with a bright future ahead of her.
Gladis has smashed the cycle of illiteracy through the support of ADC and UNICEF and is the first member of her family to be able to read and write. Not only is she making a difference to hers and her family’s futures, but also her community’s, who will benefit from her progress through the school system, as she sets an exemplary standard for other children. Her parents can already see the value of her education and as such, have ensured her younger sister is part of the ECD program.
As Montgomery Wonplue, Gladis’ first grade teacher at Yookudi School aptly notes, “the children that have passed through the ECD centre make my job much easier, they are up to standard and already willing to learn.” The fact that “Gladis is one of the best students” as Wonplue explains, is testimony to the vital support that ECD gives at a critical age.
“ECD students are the best students.”
 Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, “Growth Theory Through the Lens of Development Economics” in Steve Durlauf and Phillippr Aghion, eds., Handbook of Economic Growth, vol. 1A (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Ltd./North Holland, 2005) pp. 473-552, cited in the author’s book, ‘Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty.’ P.88.