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Lively Minds: empowering rural communities to help their 3-6 year old children thrive

place Ghana + 2 more

Getting quality early childhood care and education (“ECCE”) to last mile communities.

The first 5 years of a child’s life are decisive, yet low-income countries struggle to provide quality early childhood services. Our mission is to get quality ECD to children in last-miles communities by empowering parents as ECD providers. We reach 250k children per year at a cost of $14 per child in Ghana and Uganda, and in the next 5 years we will expand to all rural Ghana and a new country.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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Target group
May 2024
We want all children to thrive through play-based learning and home-based care, with their parents as the agents of change. We want parents in last-miles communities to improve their children's development using their own resources. To achieve this, we want to bring about a paradigm shift in the sector so that more investment, implementation and policy focus on supporting parents to deliver ECCE.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Rural children in LMICs fail to get the ECCE they need, which harms their school-readiness and educational progress. A major cause is that parents fail to provide adequate stimulation and learning at home because they don’t believe they are capable to. We realised parents had the potential to be the solution and just needed to be supported to provide ECD using their own talents and resources.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Through government and a train the trainers cascade, we train 40 Mothers per community to run educational play groups for all preschoolers in their community, and to provide learning & care at home. The mothers follow a structured curriculum and teach using fun educational games that stimulate learning, improve wellbeing, and encourage good hygiene. Parents are given monthly group parenting workshops where they learn cost-free & play-based ways to provide care and education at home using local resources that support holistic development and wellbeing, for both child and parent. Topics include nutrition, language development, self-esteem, stress management.
The programme has been proven through RCT to significantly improve children's cognitive - by the equivalent of an extra year of school - to improve socio-emotional skills and to reduce malnutrition. As well improving parenting practices, the programme also benefits parents by increasing their confidence and standing in the community.

How has it been spreading?

We are proud to have so far been able to scale our model to every village in Mayuge District in Uganda, and to 1/3 of all rural communities in Ghana. At present we are benefitting over 103,500 mothers and 249,600 children aged 3-6 years across 2954 rural communities, and this number is set to increase as we expand nationwide in Ghana.

Our 2-3 year goals are to:
1) Scale the programme to all rural communities in Ghana. We are well on the way to achieving this. We are currently operating in 1/3 communities and an RCT is underway to assess the impacts of the programme at scale. We are currently supporting the government to raise the funding for expansion.
2) Scale in to a new country, through partnership with government.
3) Scale the radio programme in its own right across Ghana, Uganda and

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Our model has a quite complex implementation systems as it is delivered through government systems. It cannot be instantly adopted by someone else. Yet, many of the approaches are replicable – including parents as the agents of change, behaviour change approaches to overcome the grassroot barriers, using radio to upskill rural parents. Get in touch with our ECD Advocacy & Systems Change Manager.

Implementation steps

Sensitising and enroling communities
The first step is to run a communnity meeting, to present the programme to the community, including raising awareness of the essential role of parents and the community in general in improving their children's development. Following the meeting, 30 - 40 mothers per community are enrolled in the programme on a voluntary basis.
Training and onboarding of mothers
Mothers who enrol at the community meeting take part in training sessions to run the Plays Schemes in their community school. There are 8 2-hour training sessions.
Once trained, they take it in turns to teach the children for 2 hours everyday, which leads to once a week per mother.
Reinforcing parenting practices
Mothers and fathers attend parenting workshop once per month and listen to the radio programme once a week.
Through these two channels they learn about parenting practices and child health so they can provide better care and stimulation for their children and find cheap practical ways to make changes using local materials.
Improved nurturing care at home
Trained and informed Mothers adopt nurturing care practices at home thanks to what they learned during Play Schemes training and Parenting Workshops. The role of fathers is also reinforced as they also took part to Parenting Workshops and have listen to the radio programme.

Spread of the innovation

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