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UK Research and Innovations (2020)

A school closer to home : using mealtimes to foster language development, improve girls’ nutrition and align home and school in rural Kenya and Zambia

School Girls Rural

Titre : A school closer to home : using mealtimes to foster language development, improve girls’ nutrition and align home and school in rural Kenya and Zambia

Pays/Région : Kenya and Zambia

Durée : févr. 20 - janv. 24

Référence projet : ES/T004959/1
Catégorie : Research Grant

Résumé partiel
We develop a new way to address educational disadvantage in rural Africa, through a collaboration between academics from Kenya, Zambia and the UK, teachers, families and community groups. The connection between home and school is key to sustainable education : (i) parents must recognise the school’s priorities if they are to support their child’s continuing education, (ii) teachers need to understand their pupils’ home environment so they can build on positive home experiences and (iii) schools must build on children’s existing skills and knowledge and fit with their goal of a successful life in their community. There is currently a serious disconnect between home and school in Africa and this is exacerbated in rural Kenya and Zambia by the predominance of non-local teachers who often don’t speak pupils’ native languages. We aim to connect home and school learning by targeting Early Childhood Education and Development programmes (ECDE ; age 4 - 6). Unlike primary and secondary schools, ECDE centres recruit teachers from the local community. The relationship between parents and teachers is closest in ECDE settings, providing a crucial opportunity to build bridges between home and school. It is also a critical opportunity for mitigating early disadvantages for girls and empowering females in leadership roles since ECDE teachers are predominantly female.

We prioritise language and nutrition as fundamental to all later learning, and aim to (i) identify positive practices in the home that benefit early language development and nutrition and (ii) to work together with ECDE teachers as researchers to empower them to develop teacher and parent networks to share best practice in school and at home. We target mealtimes for our observations of behaviour and language since they are a particularly rich time for social interaction, and the focus on eating gives an authentic setting for natural communication. Our objectives are (i) to measure home and school mealtime behaviour and language to identify practices that are most crucial for raising the quality of language children are exposed to (e.g., whether adults and children sit together ; whether they have a television) (ii) to observe eating behaviours in the home, assess the extent to which girls’ eat less food, or less nutritious foods, and identify practices that raise levels of female nutrition (e.g., girls may eat more if they share food as a family, rather than when girls and women eat separately) (iii) to work together with our teacher-researchers and community advisors to co-develop a teacher-network and parent outreach programme, based on evidence from objectives 1 and 2

Lead Research Organisation : Aston University

Financement : Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Budget  : £863 255

UK Research and Innovations

Page publiée le 3 septembre 2022