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Move & Improve

Holistic, sport & play-based Early Childhood Development (ECD) for disadvantaged children

Children aged 3 to 6 are provided with the foundations for learning, school success and healthy development through quality ECD and their transition to primary school is facilitated. The sport & play-based curriculum by the Swiss Academy for Development (SA4D) enables children to develop holistically by improving physical strength, intellectual capacities, emotional awareness and social skills.



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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September 2022
So far, Move & Improve has improved the future prospects of over 3,400 children.

About the innovation

Quality education for marginalised children

Why do we need Move & Improve? The programme addresses the marginalisation and exclusion of children in Uttar Pradesh, India, who are disadvantaged by their caste (Dalit), religion (Muslim groups) and/or lack of access to important economic resources. Uttar Pradesh is the state with the lowest school attendance rates in India. Primary school drop-out rates are still very high, double the national average. Children who live in the most remote villages or are from the lowest castes and socioeconomic backgrounds are most affected. In the past, child labour was very prevalent in the region. While child labour has been reduced significantly, the risk of communities slipping back into old habits still exists. In this regard, early education, parental education and community awareness activities have been shown to act as a preventive measure.

Who drives Move & Improve? The programme was initiated by the Swiss Academy for Development (SA4D) and is implemented by the Centre for Rural Education and Development (CREDA). Fifty facilitators assisted by fifty caretakers run daily classes for the children and promote their learning. Fifty local management committees support the early learning centres. Countless parents and community members have helped with lobbying, labour contributions and awareness raising activities.

What has Move & Improve achieved until now? Over 3,400 children have been enrolled in the programme, more than half of them girls. 51% have illiterate parents and 99% belong to the lowest and most marginalised castes or are Muslims (who face widespread discrimination). 65% are from landless families and 33% have parents who are small/marginal farmers. Only 1% of the children have dropped out of the programme and 1,573 children are already enrolled in their first, second or third year of formal education. An assessment looking at the milestones children have reached showed that on average, they are doing well in terms of their cognitive, physical and social-emotional development.

In which ways is Move & Improve innovative? The programme uses an interactive, playful approach to education - not only in the daily teachings for the children but also in the parental education programme where parents learn in a fun and engaging way how to support their children in their schooling. No special equipment is required, and all sport & play material can be done by the facilitators or the parents themselves: for example, balls, dolls, hand and finger puppets. The message is: we don’t need fancy equipment to provide our children with fun learning opportunities and prepare them for school! This makes the approach especially suited for communities with only scarce resources.

What is the history behind Move & Improve? The sport & play-based approach targeting preschool children was piloted in Nepal between 2012 and 2015, where 760 children were prepared for entry into primary school. Since then, the approach has not only been scaled up in India with Move & Improve but also been adapted to the context of the Palestinian Territories where SA4D trained kindergarten teachers.


An approach that works
To learn more about the achievements reached with the sport & play-based approach in the pilot project that we implemented in Nepal, click here
Move & Improve – Early Childhood Development for Disadvantaged Children in India
Babbu's story
Babbu, six years old and of Dalit descent, attended the early learning centre in his small village. His parents, Shanti and Anika, work in the fields and as day labourers. The family lives below the poverty line, with living conditions resembling those of many others in the village. Babbu has had a slight walking disability since birth, but can move well. However, he has an unusual running style, which local children often teased him about. He felt ashamed, developed an inferiority complex, and was easily irritable. When he began attending the centre, he withdrew and did not want to play with the other children. The centre’s facilitator did not force him to play, but involved him, adapting the activities so he could participate despite his disability. When Babbu realised the other children were not making fun of him, he joined in. His parents watched this change with amazement, saying the project has changed his life and transformed his self-esteem. Outside the centre, he now plays with neighbours. After reaching the school entrance age, he enrolled in grade one at the nearest primary school, which he now attends regularly. His parents are especially proud of him as they are both illiterate.
Building on local resources and support
Project expenses are kept to as low as possible, with communities contributing labour to renovate and maintain facilities. This also increases local ownership. Local materials are used whenever possible: the majority of sport & play materials are produced by the facilitators, who are trained in using locally available resources or recycled materials.
Toolkit "Learning through Play"
: We use a child-friendly, sport & play-based approach, for which we have developed a toolkit with background information, practical guidelines, activities to do with the children and instructions for toys. It has since been translated into Nepali, Hindi and Arabic. Download the English version here

Implementation steps

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