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In-home Early Childhood Education (Little Ripples Ponds)

In-home centers supporting refugee-led education and trauma recovery

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
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Little Ripples Ponds is an early childhood education program that trains and employs refugee women to provide culturally inspired home-based preschool education to improve the early development of refugee children exposed to conflict. 

i-ACT has developed and implemented a comprehensive early childhood education program called Little Ripples, in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad. Little Ripples (LR) seeks to improve the humanitarian efforts of empowering refugee women while focusing on the critical need and gap of early childhood education for refugee children. The program uses a participatory train-the-trainer approach to build the capacity of refugee women to serve as teachers and leaders in providing quality preschool education. The skeleton LR curriculum created by experts in early childhood development, trauma recovery, and crisis intervention is adapted by the refugee teachers and infused with their cultural songs, stories, experiences, and traditions. The curriculum’s modules emphasize social-emotional learning, language and mathematics literacy, play-based learning, and physical development of the child.  

Little Ripples is a preschool program that is able to be implemented quickly and efficiently, under the complete leadership of trained female teachers for the improvement of children's social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development. In order to strengthen the program and make it applicable and scalable in eastern Chad and other refugee contexts globally, Little Ripples is moving from a school-based to an in-home model called Little Ripples Ponds (Ponds). Ponds are hosted in existing refugee homes which are adapted to provide a safe space for children to learn and play, eliminating the need and construction of costly new structures in camps. 

Ponds is a forward-thinking program. By reaching children at their most vulnerable and critical developmental stages, LR plants the foundations of interpersonal skills, empathy, and peace among a population exposed to conflict, violence, and instability. Furthermore, when these communities are no longer refugees and must rebuild their lives, women will be able use the program’s curriculum and their acquired skills to assist in developing their community’s education structure for young children. 

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Little Ripples Ponds is a cost-effective and replicable early childhood development program that trains and employs refugee women to provide culturally inspired home-based preschool education to improve the early development of refugee children exposed to conflict. Little Ripples (LR) seeks to improve the humanitarian efforts of empowering refugee women while focusing on the critical need and gap of early childhood education for refugee children. The skeleton LR curriculum created by experts in early childhood development, trauma recovery, and crisis intervention is adapted by the refugee teachers and infused with their cultural songs, stories, experiences, and traditions. The curriculum’s modules emphasize social-emotional learning, peacebuilding, language and mathematics literacy, and physical development of the child. Not only does it seek to support trauma recovery for the women teachers and children, the program specifically builds the capacity of refugee women to serve as teachers and leaders and redefines the education space by bringing it into the home. Eventually, these teachers can continue being leaders long after they are refugees.

WHO BENEFITS?

The program is currently benefiting Darfur refugees living in camps in eastern Chad. Specifically, the program directly benefits children ages three to five and female refugees trained and employed to serve as teachers. In 2015, we seek to secure support to make a exploratory trip to Syrian refugee camps (possibly in Jordan) or Central African Republic to see if Little Ripples can be replicated to support these communities.

PROTOTYPE

We are currently running a prototype in refugee camp Goz Amer, eastern Chad. This includes: 1) Identify homes and host families, 2) Pair one new teacher with one experienced Little Ripples school teacher and train them together using a participatory train-the-trainer method, 3) Identify first Ponds students and train refugee team to complete baseline assessments of Ponds students and control group to build an evidence-based history of the program. In April 2015, our team returned from identifying the first Ponds and training the refugee camp-based assessment team comprised of Darfuris living in the camp. After the rainy season (which runs from June - September or October), we will build out the first Ponds, collect baseline and control group assessments, and train our first Ponds teachers using the train-the-trainer approach.

FEEDBACK

We were told by UNHCR and Jesuit Refugee Service that we could not build schools in these camps, since all services were moving towards self-reliance. So the Ponds are in effect a response to this. Richie Davidson, an expert in the field of building empathy, recently said we were doing all the right assessments and activities to build and measure empathy and trauma recovery. One mother recently shared that her daughter "counts more and sings songs and poems at home. Also, at Little Ripples, she's learned about hand washing. "After she goes to the bathroom, she cleans her hands. She likes to be more clean now.” The focus of Little Ripples is on the young students, but the empowerment of the female teachers has been transformational. After the training, one teacher noted, "Learning games to teach the children is my favorite. Before Little Ripples, I never got to play and learn these games. Now I feel like I will be a really good teacher". More assessment results: http://bit.ly/1IR4Rsf

HOW IS THIS IDEA DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION (OR OTHER ORGANIZATIONS) IS ALREADY DOING?

Little Ripples seeks to improve the humanitarian efforts of empowering refugee women while focusing on the critical need for early childhood education for refugee children in conflict. The program uses existing spaces and resources to eliminate costly or permanent construction in camps, is culturally sensitive and adaptable to any context and uncertainty, and can be implemented effectively and immediately. The curriculum, co-developed with female refugee teachers, is comprehensive in that it fosters the early development of the child as well as addresses trauma for children affected by conflict. Little Ripples empowers women to be leaders and advocates for education in their community.

HOW WOULD YOU USE AMPLIFY FUNDING AND DESIGN SUPPORT?

i-ACT would use Amplify funding and design support to: 1) Expand Little Ripples Ponds in refugee camp Goz Amer and Djabal, eastern Chad in order to reach all children ages three to five in these two camps. 2) To further evaluate the impact of the program on the social-emotional, cognitive and physical health of the children, to measure the empowerment of the female teachers and supervisors and measure the impact on the Little Ripples students’ family. 3) To formalize our program model and design in order for Little Ripples to be implemented by other actors in other refugee contexts globally. Amplify support will help make LR an replicable, evidence-based program.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF THE CHALLENGE?

Little Ripples does not need the physical structure of a school or material resources in order for the program be implemented and effective immediately. Upon recruiting and training female teachers, LR simply needs a safe space for small groups of children to gather. Little Ripples is co-developed with refugee women, and managed and implemented entirely by refugee women. This fosters ownership and builds the capacity of the community. Positions of leadership and formal employment are disproportionally held by men in refugee camps in eastern Chad, LR is designed to ensure opportunities for women both in leadership positions as well as through the inclusive curriculum development process.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM THE AMPLIFY TEAM

LR’s comprehensive curriculum fosters early development and addresses trauma for children affected by conflict. Children meet educational milestones and learn foundations of interpersonal skills, empathy and peace. LR curriculum is culturally sensitive, accounts for diverse cultural backgrounds of refugees and replicable because it’s inclusively co-developed with the teachers. In addition to mindfulness, play-based learning, and strength-based teaching techniques, LR trains women in management and leadership. The program runs entirely under their leadership. They are staff, liaisons between camp management, and advocates for preschool education and trauma relief. i-ACT is finalizing manuals for teachers and trainers. With these manuals and the curriculum, the program will be completely transparent, accessible, and replicable with any population. We have learned about the need to shift away from costly physical structures towards in-home centers. Effectively, the program will be more community-oriented and scalable. We also learned that role-playing and hands on activities are the most effective approach to teacher training. Beyond helping them learn, this fostered ownership of the curriculum and facilitated their ability to further develop and design the curriculum for their community. Currently, Chad does not have a national preschool education curriculum. i-ACT has the opportunity to present LR to the Ministry of Education Chad in order to assist the country.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

We can help advise on creating a replicable program model in a very isolated and desolate region, where even humanitarian support is dwindling after more than 10 years of support. We have also started a soccer program and team, which we can share with partners too. We are really looking to partner in order to expand. This includes creating more Ponds to meet the needs in Darfuri camps, but also to test how replicable the model really is in another refugee context.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I live in the Los Angeles area and I am the Director of Operations and Community Involvement for i-ACT: www.iactivism.org. I facilitate programs for children in the Darfuri refugee camps in Chad, coordinate national campaigns, facilitate an adult Fellowship program, and more.

IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?

  • Yes, I have implementation capacity and am interested in and able to make this idea real in my community.

61 comments

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Photo of Robert Miller
Team

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Photo of An Old Friend
Team

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GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTIONTEMPLE@YAHOO.COM AND YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT HER ON WHATSAPP WITH HER NUMBER: +2348078359876 SHE ALSO HAS 2 BLOGS WHICH YOU CAN ALSO USE TO REACH HER. THESE ARE THE BLOGS BELOW. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE BLOGS TO SEE HER WORK.

GREATMOTHEROFPOWERS.BLOGSPOT.COM
GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTION.BLOGSPOT.COMPLEASE READ THIS TESTIMONY CAREFULLY. I AM USING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THE WORLD THAT, GREAT MOTHER IS A GIFTED SPELL CASTER. MY HUSBAND LEFT ME FOR NO REASON. I WAS NO LONGER MY SELF AND AT A TIME, I ATTEMPTED TO COMMIT SUICIDE. BUT THANK GOD I CAME ACROSS GREAT MOTHER ONLINE. I READ GOOD REVIEWS ABOUT HER GOOD WORK AND HOW USEFUL AND HELPFUL SHE HAS BEEN TO PEOPLE. I CONTACTED HER AND TOLD HER MY PROBLEM. SHE TOLD ME THAT MY WAN WILL COME BACK TO ME. SHE TOLD ME WHAT TO DO AND I DID IT AND TO MY GREAT SURPRISE MY HUSBAND CAME BACK JUST AS GREAT MOTHER SAID. I EVEN NOTICED THAT WHEN MY HUSBAND RETURNED, HE EVEN LOVE ME MORE. THIS IS NOT BRAIN WASHING BUT GREAT MOTHER OPENED UP HIS EYES TO SEE HOW MUCH LOVE I HAVE FOR HIM AND HOW MUCH LOVE WE OUGHT TO SHARE WITH EACH OTHER. CONTACT HER NOW ON HER EMAIL:
GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTIONTEMPLE@YAHOO.COM AND YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT HER ON WHATSAPP WITH HER NUMBER: +2348078359876 SHE ALSO HAS 2 BLOGS WHICH YOU CAN ALSO USE TO REACH HER. THESE ARE THE BLOGS BELOW. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE BLOGS TO SEE HER WORK.

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Photo of Jodie Chan
Team

As mentioned, and affirmed, by the many comments below, this seems like an incredible idea. Little Ripples (Ponds) is admirable beyond the immediate need that it addresses (cost effectively) especially because the model is one that values transparency and scalability--two key traits, in my understanding, quite difficult to attain in NGO structures given the often ad hoc nature of the work.

Just a few questions/thoughts:
Might have missed this in my reading, so apologies if there is redundancy!
1. Given Little Ripples is an early childhood education program, do you partner with other NGO's or education systems that follow these children as they grow older (out of the early childhood range)?

2. Have there been ways to consider the involvement of men? As there are no doubt boys in this program, did Little Ripples consider having male role-models as well? (Thereby being an even more integral part of building and empowering the entire refugee community)

Photo of iACT
Team

Hi Jodie,
Thank you for your comment and questions!
1. Yes! Tracking a cohort of children into primary school and secondary school is important to understanding the effects of the program and curriculum longterm. We are putting measures in place to do so and are looking for partners and institutions who could help us do so.
2. Yes, we have considered the involvement of men. A male refugee leader and teacher has been an integral part of Little Ripples. He serves the program coordinator in the camps and assists with training and evaluation of the program. Additionally, as part of the curriculum, Little Ripples teachers invite show and tell guests to the classroom. We encourage men from the community to take part in this. However, men in the camps hold most of the formal jobs, including teaching at the primary and secondary level. Therefore, we felt it important to have a program that gave women the opportunity for employment and leadership in the educational space.

Let me know if you have any follow-up questions! Thank you

Photo of Jodie Chan
Team

Hi Sara-Christine,

Thank you for your speedy reply, and I'm really glad to hear that these are things that the Little Ripples group has taken into consideration. I sincerely wish you and the team all the best as the organisation expands, develops, and grows. I also do hope that you find great partners that will help to realise the larger goal of granting refugee children education in spite of a context, or rather especially in the midst of a context, that implements unique barriers from doing so.

Will do!

Photo of Paul Bromen
Team

Love your idea: scalable, sensitive and adaptable to any place with women and children in need.

Good luck with expansion and implementation.

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Thank you Paul! We will keep this summary of the program updated as we expand!

Photo of Nati Weimann-Guardia
Team

I love all the ideas presented here but this is my favorite one! That's because it addresses women and children at the same time, and apart from spreading the quality education, is fostering the family relationships. Moreover, this idea is relevant not only to the refugee communities; I think whatever family with pre-school children could benefit from that. Great job, I'm looking forward to see it implemented on a large scale!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Thank you Natalia! We are very excited about Little Ripples. Sign up for our email blasts to stay updated on our scaling up! http://littleripples.org/

Photo of Reva Pabba
Team

Great idea! I love how you noted that your program is "replicable with any population", making a program like this self sustaining is very important! This ensures that other people from all part of the world can take the model you created and build and customize it for their needs. Your idea can spread faster and effectively, making it invaluable for education. Great job Sara and Katie!

Photo of iACT
Team

Thank you, Reva! I love the way you describe our idea!

Photo of Alexander Cheung
Team

I think it's great that your team incorporates trauma and conflict into your curriculum. My wife experienced two deaths (one expected, one sudden) in her immediate family in the past year, and we realized that before we could truly handle any other significantly stressful issue in life, we needed to travel through our grief. We needed to learn the vocabulary to talk about grief, the license to spend the requisite time processing our grief. The culturally relevant piece is also, I think, key to the widespread and long-term adoption of the program.

Photo of iACT
Team

Hi Alexander,
Thank you for your comment. I'm sincerely sorry for your wife's loss. I extend my warmest condolences to the both of you.

I agree that there is a vocabulary to be learned and a process of grief that needs to take place. Little Ripples teachers receive training on how to create a safe space and serve as facilitators for open communication and sharing of experiences for both Little Ripples students and their caregivers. Beyond the daily schedule, we want Little Ripples to be a space for dialogue and community.

Community ownership is key for long-term sustainability! We do spend a lot of time with the female teachers, refugee leaders and families with young children to make sure the program incorporates and reflects their culture, needs, and existing resources. Thank you Alexander.

Photo of Lewis Linda
Team

This is an important step to promote the education of refugee children in Chad :)

Photo of iACT
Team

Hi Lewis,
Thank you, yes, we agree! We think investing in early childhood education starts refugee children on a path for healthy social-emotional, cognitive and physical development as well as prepares and promotes further education for them. It plants the seeds of education early for children, their family and the community.

Thank you for your supportive comment.

Photo of Meredith May
Team

I work for Commonsense.org, a non profit that is committed to child advocacy and I am blown away by the amazing work that you're proposing. Early childhood education is a critical component in impacting the lives of young refugees and it creates a long lasting impression that goes beyond the immediate. I feel that the overall design of the Little Ripples Early Education program is well considered and I would love to support your efforts!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Meredith,
Wow, thank you so much. I would love to connect with you and see if there is a part of Little Ripples that we can collaborate on. I love the variety on your website. Just in quick glance, we could possible collaborate on blogs and offer kids an action opportunity, like being part of our hand activity (for younger kids) or sharing their favorite game after watching our Little Ripples student play jacks. We have some activities already posted here: http://littleripples.org/schools-ponds/ that we could write a blog about and get some kids, parents, communities involved? Or maybe co-write a blog for the educators blog section on our model?

I'd love to know more about your Right Start Initiative in CA also. More than being a parent of a 3 year in the LA area, we are also looking at how to influence the humanitarian response to conflicts so that it includes necessary program and support for the critical age of 0-5. I'm sure you have some lessons that you've learned through the years in influencing US and CA policy that might help us think of effective paths at the UN level.

Please email me! ktj@iactivism.org

Photo of Mary Suchitra Fields
Team

I am a former educator and advisor to high school students with some training in art therapy for trauma victims.
One definition of being a refugee could be having no place to return to, something that can undercut the stability of a person's entire life.
It seems that the choice to move the pre-school groups into homes is a potent way to create a sense of containment and safety for the children and women, even if the change was necessitated by financial reasons.
Good and important work!
Very Best To You,
Mary Suchitra Fields
Formerly at Mount Madonna School, Watsonville, CA

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Mary,

Thank you so much for your support. We are proud to launch this next phase and hope that it provides the safety and security that you mention. I think that financial and logistical challenges do help us look for innovative solutions that are often times a better model than the one the humanitarian world implements simply because it's "how we've always done it." We are excited to share with you our impact as we move forward!

Photo of Barbara Mutnick
Team

I have been involved with education for over 40 years (as a teacher and counselor) The last 20 of those years I worked extensively with victims of trauma. The proposal that I-Act is proposing uses a variety of "Best Practices" strategies. I feel that the design is extremely well suited to the conditions that exist currently. I strongly endorse this proposal.

Barbara G. Mutnick MA
retired counselor & and former head of the Crisis Team Portland Public Schools

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Barbara,

Thank you so much for your support. We really want Little Ripples to have great impact in the future of the communities where the students are from. We truly believe, and research proves, that the first years are so critical to long-term development. If we can focus on creating grooves of compassion and problem solving, then these future leaders will be able to be so much more effective at leading with peace than past leaders.

If you are ever interested in reviewing and contributing to our curriculum, please do get in touch!

Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Hi Katie!

We have another comment from our experts for you!

"- How to continue to involve refugee women and enable them to take the project forward themselves? At what point would you be confident the Little Ripples programmes would continue without your direct involvement?"

Thanks!

The Amplify Team

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Amplify team!

The refugee women are already running the program on a day-to-day basis by themselves. They adapt the program as needed. We wanted this to be a core part of the program from the beginning, so we don't have any i-ACT staff on the ground between our trips. I think i-ACT would ideally like to always facilitate the connection between early childhood experts and the teachers, similarly to how all teachers in the US need to be recertified or attend ongoing training to continue to explore new ideas being implemented everywhere. Through this type of exchange and relationship, the experts and the teachers can explore how to continually strengthen the program, with the teachers making that decision for themselves. I think after this next year where we really use the current Little Ripples teachers to take on specific aspects of training the new Little Ripples teachers, then they will have had experience with the full circle of learning-teaching-feedback/strengthening the program-training-hiring-mentoring. At this point, the program could run fully without i-ACT's direct help.

That being said, we do feel that it's important to financially support the teacher's salaries and continue to foster mutually beneficial relationships between global communities and the Darfuri refugee (and other places we hope to implement LR) teachers and students beyond the point at which the teachers can run the program themselves. We would like to use the connection between communities as a way to bridge the global gap between cultures and to financially support a refugee-led school. I think teachers and students on both sides of the relationship will benefit greatly from a long term relationship and ideally those who are exposed will be better leaders in the future.

Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Thanks for sharing your perspective on this Katie-Jay. You're right, it's important that people are compensated for the work that they do. On our pre-challenge research trip we saw multiple schools that were funded and run by the refugee communities themselves - an inspiring example of how ideas like this one can be sustainable in the longterm!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

I think long term, yes, we would love to see it be sustainable within the community. Looking at how this is working in other similar situation is a great start. I think the most important thing would be for the community to be ready for the transition and decisions on timing to be made together.

Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Hi Katie!

We have a comment from our of our experts regarding your idea. See below!

"thank you so much for submitting your idea to the amplify challenge. I thought the approach you are developing is fascinating, taking a very holistic, child and family centred approach to tackling a major challenge. i liked the focus on pre-school, and also your commitment to serious evaluation of whether and how the approach you are proposing can change lives. "

Thanks!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Thanks! I had not seen this comment yet. I will reply!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi OpenIdeo/Shane,
I don't see where this comment was originally submitted so I'm replying here (maybe original comments can be in a different color so they are easier to identify?).

Dear Amplify Team,
Thank you for your comment! We see early childhood development field as a whole moving towards a more holistic child and family-centered approach. We felt that emphasizing this is even more important for children and families who have been through conflict and are most likely experiencing extreme effects of trauma. There is so much on how important ages 0-5 are, and how development during these years sets the foundation for their entire life. How can we as a humanitarian community help address this foundation in refugee and IDP camps alongside providing all other basic necessities. We are committed to having Little Ripples be an evidence-based program so that in the long run supporting this vulnerable population at the very beginning of displacement and camp settlements is a priority for all agencies, but not a burden in the sense that they need to recreate a new culturally appropriate program to serve the local population. We feel that the LR foundations of peace, helping, and sharing will give these future leaders a choice between continuing the cycle of violence to solve disagreements and using empathy and cooperation.

We look forward to the opportunity to further develop Little Ripples with partners in the humanitarian field!

Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Hi Katie-Jay,

Great suggestion about how to distinguish comments - it gets tricky sifting through so many!
And, thank you for sharing your perspective on the importance of this problem!

Photo of Nancy Dawson
Team

As an early childhood educator of more than 20 years, I wholeheartedly endorse the Little Ripples Early Education Project. As a member of Portland, Oregon's Never Again Coalition, I am gratified to see such a meaningful and effective way of helping children thrive under such difficult conditions in refugee camps. The level of professionalism you have brought to this project is impressive. I think that an especially strong point is the training and use of women in the camps as teachers. This is a model that works! In our work for the Never Again Coalition, it is so discouraging to see the trauma left behind when women and children are victims of genocide and war. Your program is a shining beacon of hope for a better future for so many. Keep up the great work!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Nancy,

Thank you so, so much for your support and endorsement. If you ever want to be more involved in the skeleton curriculum, trauma recovery efforts, or creating more ways for NAC to be involved with one specific Pond, please email me. We are also in the process of creating a training package that we can use with partner organizations to implement Little Ripples in other camps. It would be great to have someone with your level of experience look at it and provide feedback. Let me know!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great to see the Little Ripples Ponds in the Ideas Phase Katie-Jay! We love how the home-based education approach was developed in response to the restriction of building new schools in the camp. This type of responsive thinking will be important for any idea that's adapting to the refugee context. From the pilot in Chad, what are some key lessons that your team has learned that can be applied to Syrian camps in Jordan? And what might be some specific needs of Syrian refugees that your team will plan to address when expanding the Little Ripples Pond pilot?

Also, here are a few research posts about the Syrian refugee context that you might be interested to check out:
https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/adjusting-to-school-in-a-foreign-land
https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/access-to-school-is-only-part-of-the-solution
https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/research/an-interview-on-syrian-refugee-children-education-in-turkey

Looking forward to how this will evolve!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Shane,

Very good questions. I've looked at the other research posts and here are my initial thoughts (although they are flexible and open to feedback). i-ACT strongly believes in the iterative process for the teachers and their recovery, the curriculum, and for the students themselves. We feel strongly that by providing only a skeleton curriculum (created by trauma and early childhood education experts) and allowing the local teachers to create together the details of the activities, songs, experiences, and more from their own cultural background it creates an environment for refugees fleeing targeted violence to embrace and celebrate where they came from and, for the teachers, a safe place to work through their own experiences.

Key lessons from Chad that can be applied to Syria:

It is so important to acknowledge and celebrate the culture of the people in the camp, especially after experiencing targeted violence towards that culture. It is also so important to empower them to share this culture as part of the classroom activities. We've also learned to that our teachers really need to be women (since often times in camp structure the men who were in power positions back at home before displacement take paying jobs regardless of experience or desire to complete the job) who have a passion for children. Empowering them to open up, to play, and to laugh again after such destruction is equally important as teaching them activities on how to count, read, engineer, and other concrete educational skills. I would say this is equally important for Syrian refugees. I loved the post about informal education for Syrian refugees by Syrian refugees. However, let's make it formal. Give the teachers Little Ripples training, and certificates by an international NGO, work experience, and a structure for the teachers to come together weekly to celebrate successes, troubleshoot classroom challenges, and work collaboratively together to prepare their children for their future. I also like the idea of Turkish volunteers working with the classrooms to help with eventually transition to a Turkish primary school. Little Ripples uses local volunteers in the refugee camps (they are also Darfuri refugees), and it would be a great way to break down cultural barriers by co-creating activities that can first be done one language, then another, and such activities like "mirroring" to highlight commonalities rather than differences.

In Chad, there are many different tribes that speak different languages in each home, and when they get to primary school grade 1, they are taught in Arabic. Through our preschool program we prepare the kids for primary school. As a result there is interaction between the primary school teachers and our Little Ripples teachers. I would think this falls a little under the model of Turkish volunteers helping in settings where Syrians are teaching Syrians. Syrian Little Ripples teachers could also interact and attend primary school days to understand more about what their 3-5 year olds will experience in Turkish schools once they've graduated from Little Ripples. This would obviously have to be worked out with the local population, both the refugees and the local host community to create the best and most beneficial interaction.

The three pillars of Little Ripples: Peace, Helping, and Sharing and their re-emphasis through strength-based student management have proven to be a strong foundation from which children are happier and calmer. Additionally, daily breathing exercises have also proven to help reduce the violence in the classroom. In teaching all of these things, the local teachers interpret and teach their own examples, making it culturally appropriate. These foundations, purposefully put into the skeleton curriculum by trauma experts, are helping break the long-term cycle of violence by giving them other tools to address their differences. This is one of the steps in reducing the effects of PTSD and other trauma related behavior. I think both Syrian teachers and children could also benefit from this model.

Having local refugee women teach children in a home-based learning environment (whether in urban areas or temporary sheltered areas in camps) addresses a few of the concerns and challenges raised in some of the research linked above. By starting with the youngest, it allows parents the time to support their families and older siblings the chance to attend school. It helps prepare the children for a learning environment rather than thrusting them into a new, foreign school. The trauma recovery elements will address and prepare these children to be in primary school (academically and psychologically), and beyond, providing a better future long term.

One more note on Mission vs Reality, we believe strongly in supporting our LR teachers with good salaries. They are working with kids during their most vulnerable ages (which are 0-5). They must be compensated for their work.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Thanks for these additional thoughts Katie-Jay! It'd be helpful to update your idea post with how your team is planning to bring this project to Syrian refugee camps. This way, it'll be the most visible to people who will be reading your idea for the first time.

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Thanks Shane, I will try to fit it in. In a few of the response questions, I'm very tight on characters. Also, I don't want to give the impression that we have funding to expand to Syria. We are currently looking for more support for Little Ripples for Chad and for an exploratory trip to another region such as Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. Without it, we can't expand. Do you think I should still update the project beyond the LR Pilot in Chad if we don't have funding for this phase yet?

Photo of Caroline Schmidt
Team

Dear Katie-Jay, congratulations to your idea and hard work. I watched recently a documentary about the Breidjing Camp in Chad. (Here the link - http://info.arte.tv/en/refugees-chad). The camp exists as I remember about 10 years. The government of Chad - as host government - has decided to put in place the chadien curriculum in primary schools. The responds from the refugee community was that they stopped sending their children to school - because they are afraid to loose their Dafurian identity. So your approach seems very right - also in bringing in the women as "agents of change". There have been many stories about Syrian refugees who rolled up their sleeves to help their fellow country men/ women/ children. And what also supports your approach are the stories of - mostly women (for those that I saw) - who fled their country and who take care of unaccompanied children along the way and in the camps. Good luck!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Caroline,

Thank you so much for your video link. I will share it with my team. We are hearing the same stories about the Chadian curriculum in the Southern camps too. The Chadian government told our Darfuri friends that they had to go to the training of the Chadian curriculum or they would not get their jobs back. It's all part of their process of "integration" and is being extended to food vouchers, food ration cuts, and even medical services which include cutting medical options in the camps and forcing refugees to pay for medical care and nearby Chadian clinics, which cannot even support the local population.

We do have a further opportunity with LR, which is to influence Chad's preschool education system, which doesn't exist. So while it wouldn't be applied to "refugees" but it could lift up the Chadian women, whether living in villages or in IDP camps, and empower them to be leaders while helping the next generation of Chadians. It's far in the horizon, but still there. My personal hope, although immensely hard to measure, is that by having LR Ponds all over the world, the next generation of leaders are equipped with tools for peace and do not fall back on violence, which is some cases is their only example of conflict resolution.

Thank you for your support!

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Team

Hi Katie-Jay! Character restrictions are a new thing that we are trying out. Can you give us a sense of what sections you do not have enough space to fill in? Cheers!

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Team

Hi Team! In this refinement phase, it was great that you expanded the character limits. I believe there should be character limits. The hardest section to keep in limits was "ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM THE AMPLIFY TEAM". For each previous question limits were 500-750 per question, but then for the refinement phase, we were given 1500 characters to answer 6 questions. I think for that section, maybe give unlimited (or 5000 like you have for replies here)? Before starting to shorten that section, we had headers with your questions to make it very clear what we were answering. Looking at previous challenges, I don't see the "answer to Amplify questions" section, so I assume adding it up top is new to the challenges. I think expanding character limits for that section would help tremendously!

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Team

Thanks for your feedback, we'll make that section a little longer!

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Team

Congratulations on making it to the Refugee Education Challenge Refinement List, Katie-Jay! We love how your idea focuses on including mothers and other community members in early childhood education. We also like how this takes education outside the traditional school walls and advocates for alternative locations and the home-based approach. We’d love to know more about how you intend to develop your curriculum? How does it align with the curriculum of the host country? What makes this different from other Early Childhood Development curriculums? How might this curriculum and process be replicated in multiple locations? What are some of the learnings that came from your first pilot in Chad?

You can help us better understand how a user would interact with your idea by filling out a User Experience Map: http://ideo.pn/UX_Map Great to have you in the challenge!

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Team

Little Ripples curriculum has been developed, implemented and tested. Based on a baseline assessment and one year follow-up, as well as qualitative interviews with Little Ripples teachers and caregivers, the curriculum is improving the social-emotional, cognitive and physical health of children. We continue to work with ECD experts and the refugee community to add more classroom management tools, teaching techniques and games to add variety and options to the curriculum.

How does it align with the curriculum of the host country?
Currently, Chad does not have a national early childhood education or preschool education curriculum. Therefore, i-ACT has the opportunity to present the Little Ripples program to the Ministry of Education Chad in order to assist the country in developing a national curriculum.

What makes this different from other Early Childhood Development curriculums?
1) Little Ripples curriculum is co-developed with the refugee teachers. In turn the Little Ripples curriculum is very culturally sensitive and flexible for any population. The curriculum is a pre-established outline that is completed by the Little Ripples female teachers. This approach accounts for the diverse cultural backgrounds of refugees as well as creates an inclusive approach. For example, each refugee camp in eastern Chad host Darfur refugees representing different tribes of Darfur. Our curriculum allows the female teachers from each camp to design learning tools, stories, games, etc. that reflect and respect their respective tribal culture. It also promotes the teamwork and collaboration among teachers across tribes.
2) Little Ripples curriculum is comprehensive, in that it both fosters the early development of the child as well as addresses trauma for children affected by conflict. At Little Ripples children do not simply sing song, repeat the alphabet or play with toys. Rather, children learn preschool educational milestones including colors, counting, and the alphabet while also learning the foundations of interpersonal skills, empathy, and peace. The curriculum is implemented through mindful learning, play-based learning and strength-based teaching techniques. For example, children learn calming and breathing exercises to give them space, time and techniques to alleviate stress. Teachers are also trained to provide one-on-one attention to the children and to teach in small groups.
3) Little Ripples curriculum empowers women to be leaders and advocates for education in their community. In additional to in-classroom teaching, the curriculum trains women in management and leadership skills. The program is run entirely under their leadership. They are the teachers and supervisors, the liaisons between the program and camp management, and the advocates for preschool education and trauma relief in their community. They manage the school space, the volunteers and any outreach required in their community. Not only is this to foster ownership but to build the capacity of the community so that Little Ripples is sustainable in the refugee camp and is a program that can be implemented in their community once they are no longer refugees.

How might this curriculum and process be replicated in multiple locations?
i-ACT is currently finalizing the Little Ripples Curriculum Teachers’ Manual and Trainers’ Manual. With these manuals and the curriculum, Little Ripples program will be completely transparent, accessible and able to be utilized by any actors wishing to implement the Little Ripples program with refugee populations. The Manuals provide a step-by-step guide for trainers to implement Little Ripples in a community. i-ACT will work with partners and share the manuals and curriculum to be replicated in any refugee context globally. i-ACT has also developed monitoring and evaluation tools for the program and curriculum. Therefore, the program would continue to be monitored and evaluated in each location and community in order to inform, update and improve the programs reach, impact and replicability.

What are some of the learnings that came from your first pilot in Chad?
From our Little Ripples pilot program in refugee camp Goz Amer, we learned that in order to make Little Ripples more cost-effective and replicable, the program needed to shift away from depending on a physical school structure. Following the one-year pilot program where we proved the impact of the curriculum, Little Ripples is moving to a home-based program. The program will be more community-oriented and will reach more children with it’s curriculum and will train and employ more teachers. During the pilot year, we also learned that role-playing, hands on activities and participation is the most effective approach to Little Ripples teacher training. Beyond helping them learn, this gave them more ownership of the curriculum and greatly facilitated their ability to complete and further develop and design the curriculum for their community.

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Team

Hi Team, We've included User Experiences for a teacher and a student. They are in the document section of our entry. We look forward to more questions and dialogue!

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Team

Hi Katie-Jay,
Thank you for sharing such a detailed response! It's great to hear about all of the work that has gone into developing your curriculum and about the advocacy work it has enabled you to do in Chad. Just to clarify, you have not yet tried the ponds in the home-context in a refugee context, is that correct? Are you hoping to have Amplify support to develop that program? If so, can you give us a sense of how you might use our support?

Also, it's great that you have begun prototyping earlier this year - you say you have already identified the teachers that will be trained? How did you identify them? What are your plans for when the rains have finished?

Looking forward to learning more!

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Team

Hi Amplify Team,
No, we have not implemented Little Ripples Ponds in an in-home context yet. We have laid the ground work to implement the initial Ponds this coming Fall. But we have selected the homes that will host each Pond. We’ve received approval from the host families and other camp agencies and leadership to implement the Ponds, and we’ve identified the changes needed to be made to each home in order to maintain child friendly space safety standards.

We are hoping to use support from Amplify to implement the initial Ponds in refugee camp Goz Amer. The support would cover the teacher training and initial salaries of each teacher (2 per Pond), educational materials for each Pond and a baseline assessment of Pond students and a control group in order to begin to measure the impact of the in-home model so that we can scale up the program.

Yes, we’ve already identified a group of women candidates that would like to be trained to serve as Little Ripples Pond teachers. They were identified through word of mouth and from referral from existing Little Ripples School teachers. The teachers will be selected and employed the same way that the Little Ripples School teachers were selected. First they must complete the entire Little Ripples training, attending each day of training, then teachers are selected. Those not selected are asked to volunteer. All women who complete the training receive a Certificate of Completion attesting to the skills and knowledge learned. Additionally, a Supervisor is nominated and chosen by the women themselves - through peer selection.

As soon as the rainy season is complete, we will conduct Little Ripples teacher training, select teachers, open the initial in-home Ponds and conduct the baseline assessment in refugee camp Goz Amer.

Let us know if you have any more questions!

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Team

Thanks Sara-Christine, this is great!

Photo of Eric Cohen
Team

Wonderful to see this creative program to help and make a real difference for such needy kids as in the Darfuri refugee camps in Chad. Thank you to i-ACT!

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Team

Thank you Eric!

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Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

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Team

Yay! Thank you so much!

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Team

Thanks for the updates on the Amplify questions Katie-Jay! It's great to see how your expansion plans are evolving. We see that you're looking for partners in the regions that Little Ripples is looking to expand into. Have you reached out to the other ideas in the Refinement Phase that are also operating in Jordan? Perhaps you might like to reach out to these ideas teams

We Love Reading: https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/refinement/we-love-reading
UNRWA Self-Learning Programme: https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/refinement/unrwa-self-learning-programme-slp-for-palestine-refugees-in-syria

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Shane,

I'm going to have a conversation Kathleen Fritz from CREATOMbuilder, Inc. (https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/ideas/building-project-based-learning-pbl-communities-of-practice) this week. Our training models are very similar. I think before we expand our model to Jordan to work with Syrians, we'd really use Amplify support to implement Little Ripples Ponds in Goz Amer. We have the school, and our next step is to build and implement Ponds. I will look into these potential partners for future though!

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Team

It sounds like we have some similar spaces that we are working in providing teacher professional development. Would be interested in talking more.

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Kathleen, I'd love to chat. What program are you with? We are also very focused on the preschool education side of things but we intentionally employ only women in order to empower them to be leaders in their community. Feel free to shoot me an email: ktj@iactivism.org

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Team

Congrats on making it to the Refinement Phase Katie-Jay! We would love it if you can take some time to answer the new Refinement questions that we've added to your original idea submission form. To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Also, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 5/11" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

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Team

We are extremely honored and excited to be at this stage. Our team is working on the questions and we will post as soon as we can. I'll update the title once we have updated our submission. Thank you for this collaborative opportunity!

Photo of Yvonnne Bezerra de Mello
Team

Hi Katie!

Excelent initiative!

How do you address the "train-the-trainer" approach you described above? Is it always one-to-one? All your team speaks the native language? Would it be viable to gather all pond mothers into one location and have some sort of online training?

Just wondering...

Keep up the great work!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Yvonnne,

Thanks for your comment and question about Little Ripples training model. The "train-the-trainer" approach is two-fold. It is not one-on-one but rather groups work for many of the topics and training when we are in the camps doing training. The trainings are usually 2-3 days and include seasoned and new LR teachers. if we are covering something that we've covered previously, we work with the seasoned teachers to empower them to lead the session. We coach them on training models and ideas, and then they lead the specific session. As we develop our teacher more and more, we will help them create training sessions in between our trips to the refugee camps, solely lead by the teachers themselves. Peer-training is a new concept to them and the more we give them power in training sessions and empower them to look at themselves as experts in early childhood education, the more comfortable they will be leading ongoing sessions.

Secondly, as we open new LR Ponds, we partner a seasoned LR teacher with a new one to continue ongoing trainings with the new teachers. As we open more Ponds and hire new teachers, this model will remain the same, keeping one teacher at a Pond for consistency for the children, and moving one to a new Pond to be partnered with a new LR teacher. Each week all of our teachers come together to share, discuss, celebrate successes, and troubleshoot challenges. This group is facilitated by the teachers themselves.

The only source of electricity in the refugee camps is generators and a few solar panels that keep the lights on. There only access to internet is at the International Non-Governmental Organizations compounds which are located sometimes up to 45 minutes away from the camp itself. We have done several success video chats between the US and Chad but it's very costly satellite data, and we've found the best training is in person. Since the community is not already digitalized (in comparison to more modern cities), online training, and even radio training, is not a concept they are used to. Several years ago the UN was trying to pilot a radio education system for secondary school, and there was simply no interest, the Darfuris really wanted someone in front of them teaching. I've also found that in most all of my trainings, offering the concept, offering a chance to test it out, and then facilitating a conversation or reflection is the most effective way of teaching. This is a hard cycle of learning via the internet.

Our team does not speak Arabic, but we've been going to the refugee camps long enough to know which Darfuris are good interpreters (and not just translators).

I'd love to hear more comments or ideas if you have them. Thank you again for your interest in Little Ripples Ponds!

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Congrats on this post being featured in this week's highlights! https://openideo.com/blog/refugee-education-weekly-highlights-may-1-2015

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Team

This idea is a game-changer. I worked on Darfur out of the U.S. embassy in Khartoum 2008-2010, and it was heart-breaking to see NGO-funded kindergartens shut down in 2009 throughout Darfur. A home-based approach could be revolutionary in how the international community works to supplement human-development indicators post-crisis.

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Team

Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!