In response to UNESCO’s priority on Africa and the shifting global development landscape, the International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education under the auspices of UNESCO (UNESCO INRULED) has built the Systematic Support to South-South Cooperation in Education for Rural Development Programme. This programme aims at supporting the holistic development of education in UNESCO member states through infrastructural assistance, technical guidance, and capacity building for the local community in a participatory manner.
Pre-primary education (PPE) marks the important transition for children from kindergarten to elementary school, preparing children physically, mentally and intellectually for their future development. From a right-based perspective, access to education is stipulated by many international conventions, and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 4.2 calls for universal access to quality pre-primary education by 2030. Based on Namibia’s needs for progression in PPE enrolment and quality, UNESCO INRULED launched the Pre-Primary Education Cooperation Project in Namibia as an international pilot project under the Systematic Support Programme.
The project is expected to launch in Namibia by the end of 2022 in cooperation with the Khomas Regional Council (Directorate of Education, Arts and Culture) in Namibia, the UNESCO Office in Windhoek and Beijing Western Sunshine Rural Development Foundation (Western Sunshine). UNESCO Windhoek assists the implementation and operation of the project in Namibia while Western Sunshine is the donor of the project facility. This project is not only an active response to UNESCO's recommendation during the evaluation for UNESCO INRULED on supporting policy change in developing countries but also a strategic step for UNESCO INRULED to go global.
The project design follows UNESCO's Priority Africa, manifests South-South Cooperation, promotes the realisation of United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal 4, Target 4.2 – by 2030 ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education, and supports Namibia's national development plan. The project employs a "4+1" PPE development model, including 1 kindergarten facility, which will be built in a primary school in the Khomas region, and 4 technical guidelines developed jointly by UNESCO INRULED and the Council: a PPE curriculum, a teacher training guideline, a PPE evaluation guideline, and a facility management handbook. The project will provide preschool children aged five to six with one year of PPE service for three years.
The project's intermediate goal is to increase the enrollment rate and the quality of PPE in the project school through facility support and capacity building. In the long run, it aims to prove the effectiveness of the project model through successful project operation, implement the project in other regions of Namibia and other developing countries through public-private partnerships, raise public recognition of the importance of PPE, and leverage policy change on the local level.
As an international cooperation pilot project, this project also allows UNESCO INRULED to generate a set of technical standards and processes for developing and undertaking international cooperation projects, which lays the foundation for its future international cooperation.