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FEATURE STORY

Bolivia: Improving early childhood care through public education

April 16, 2014


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Teacher and children of the Early Childhood Care and Development's Center located near the Mercado Lanza, La Paz.

World Bank

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • El Alto and La Paz are the two urban areas with the largest percentage of children under seven who are at risk of abandonment and inadequate parenting.

Milenka Peralta has a stand at the Lanza Market in La Paz. Just over two years ago, she had a terrifying experience when her two-year-old daughter got lost among the market’s many shops and passageways. After nearly going crazy, she finally found her the next day thanks to a friend.

Today Marisol is four years old and goes to a daycare center located in the market, just a few steps from where her mother works.  Marisol is one of 2,252 children aged six months to four years who attend the 66 ADEPI (Early Childhood Care and Development) centers operating in the seven macro-districts of La Paz.

“This daycare center is a blessing; it fits like a glove for women street sellers and also for other low-income families in the neighborhood. Without it, we would have to keep our children at the stand; here they are safe” said Milenka.

Private daycare centers have nothing over ADEPI facilities, which have appropriately equipped rooms for the children’s comfort (equipment for improving psychomotor development, modern teaching materials for the different learning levels) and nutritious food that assures children’s healthy growth. The monthly cost per child is between US$ 7 and US$ 12, as compared with an average of US$ 100 for a private daycare center.

Tania Nava, director of generational and gender issues at La Paz Municipality, said: “We want children from low-income families to benefit and thus to reduce the inequality gap with private daycare centers. It is also a workplace for women of the municipality, teachers and nurses, [and provides] training for pre-school teachers in keeping with international standards, such as the number of children per teacher, for example.”

Many of these children’s parents have informal employment or are looking for regular work. Many are single mothers who have experienced domestic violence.

“We work with [children who have been exposed to] high levels of domestic violence, which is generally perpetrated by the father on the mother or by the father on the children. Given this context, community participation is important for creating co-responsibility in the care of children” said Matilde Cajías, ADEPI coordinator at La Paz Municipality.

This initiative is also implemented in the City of El Alto, which has 80 ADEPI centers serving 4,105 children in nine macro-districts.

The ADEPI project will benefit 3,800 families in El Alto with comprehensive health care and nutrition and especially protection of mothers and children” says Patricia Copa, ADEPI coordinator at El Alto Municipality.  


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Children of the Early Childhood Care and Development's Center located near the Mercado Lanza, La Paz.

World Bank

" We work with [children who have been exposed to] high levels of domestic violence, which is generally perpetrated by the father on the mother or by the father on the children. Given this context, community participation is important for creating co-responsibility in the care of children. "

Matilde Cajías

ADEPI coordinator at La Paz Municipality.

Equality begins in early childhood

El Alto and La Paz are the two urban areas with the largest percentage of children under seven years old who are at risk of abandonment and inadequate parenting. Up to 70% of young mothers live in poverty and those who work often have precarious employment.

 “There are many young people under 21 in Bolivia who become pregnant, do not finish secondary school, do not have the support of their families to care for their children and suffer abuse and violence at the hands of their partners. This project aims to give them an opportunity to get ahead by providing childcare for their young children, training in preventive issues in sexual and reproductive health, as well as entrepreneurial activities that can help improve their skills to access the labor marketsaid Patricia Álvarez, ADEPI project manager at the World Bank.

The project is developing an action plan based on the improvement of quality and services, expansion of the centers and institutional strengthening in an effort to implement a quality model that takes into account the principles of the Avelino Sinani Education Law. This model could be replicated in other municipalities of Bolivia.

Other activities to improve overall quality include training of 200 educators and the expansion, adaptation and construction of infrastructure in an effort to make the project self-sustainable in the future.

ADEPI has received a grant of more than $US 2.8 million from the Japan Social Development Fund, which is administered by the World Bank in Bolivia.

 


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