This £500,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) will fund a three year study to investigate ways to improve the early childhood curriculum and teaching methods of pre-school carers, to increase the quality of early childhood development and education provision for young children with disabilities in Malawi. The project will develop and test a set of tools: training programmes for pre-school carers, assessment checklists sensitive to different skill areas, guidelines for developing individual developmental plans and monitoring and evaluation tools for early childhood development and education (ECDE) providers. The package of tools will be trialled to measure the effectiveness of ECDE interventions and children’s assessment scores in the selected study areas.
The project will also explore ways of developing skills of pre-school carers and community workers to use the curriculum to support children with disabilities in early childhood centres, and the community. Furthermore, the project will integrate innovative methods including geographic information system (GIS) technology to map the study areas in order to pinpoint available services in communities. Additionally, it will physically map the location of ECDE and related health, social and education services that may support children with disabilities in the study area.
Outcomes from the research will be shared with the Malawian Government and its partners in education to enhance their understanding of the different dynamics that can enable or inhibit quality early childhood development and education for children with disabilities in low resource settings.
The project team is Dr Paul Lynch (principal investigator), Professor Mike McLinden (co-investigator) and Sue Morris (co-investigator) from the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs as well as Professor Alfredo Artiles from Arizona State University and Dr Kholowa and Dr Kamchedzera from the University of Malawi. This team is complemented by two well-established and highly respected international non-governmental organisations Save the Children and Sightsavers as well as Anthrologica, a research-based organisation specialising in applied anthropology in global health.