During the school year 2018/19 Caritas Jordan provided around 2,800 refugee children with holistic early childhood education

As a key actor in response to the effects of the Syria Crisis in Jordan, Caritas Jordan is providing holistic services to refugees and vulnerable members of the local community in the areas of education, basic needs, health, psycho-social support and livelihood. In the education sector, Caritas Jordan is currently focusing on providing learning support services and early childhood education (ECE) for refugee children. During the school year 2018/19, Caritas Jordan in cooperation with the network partners Caritas Austria, Caritas Germany and Catholic Relief Services provided early childhood education for 2,800 refugee children in 27 Kindergarten facilities across 9 governorates of Jordan, ensuring that children’s right to education is being upheld even in times of crisis. Within the Kindergarten program, the curriculum is complemented by psychosocial activities and counselling, allowing children to enhance their socio-emotional well-being while educators are trained to apply child-centered methods of instruction to support children’s development and prepare them for primary education.

In Jordan overall, opportunities for access to early childhood education remain scarce, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. At the same time, the Government of Jordan aims at creating universal access for all children to ECE, an ambition outlined in the Education Strategic Plan 2018-2020. As a result of a longstanding working relationship with the government, Caritas Jordan is on its way to implement certified Kindergarten 2 classes for refugee children under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education, thereby actively supporting the education system in Jordan.  

This approach to ECE that perceives children and their psychological, emotional as well as social needs holistically also proved to bear fruits for Omar’s personal development: After attending Caritas Jordan’s Kindergarten program for two years, his aggressive behavior has subsided continuously and today he is a lot more open and cheerful than when he first visited the kindergarten. A development underlined by the Kindergarten principal: "It’s incredible how he developed. At our graduation ceremony, Omar even danced through the room and encouraged others to involve themselves."

Next to building on practical experience and expertise by partner organizations, the holistic approach to early childhood education has also been examined in applied academic studies commissioned by Caritas Austria to the Centre for Applied Research in Education (CARE) at Notre Dame University in Lebanon in the framework of Caritas Austria’s Regional Holistic Education Program: One study focusing on early childhood education and development for vulnerable children, another one examining how caregivers can bolster academic and socio-emotional learning among vulnerable students in early childhood education, aiming to build an evidence base and feeding back into program design and implementation.

Further information on Caritas Jordan’s work can be found here: www.caritasjordan.org.jo. Detailed information on the Regional Holistic Education Program as well as the CARE research studies can be found here: www.caritas.at/rhep

Having a safe place to play and discover is an essential part of healthy early childhood development – © Maria de la Guardia