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

Move & Improve

Mirzapur, India
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 (SAD) enables children to develop holistically by improving physical strength, intellectual capacities, emotional awareness and social skills.

Quality education for marginalised children

Malika Kons, Project Manager, Swiss Academy for Development (SAD)
“So far, Move & Improve has improved the future prospects of over 2,800 children.”

Malika Kons, Project Manager, Swiss Academy for Development (SAD)

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.

Who drives Move & Improve? The programme was initiated by the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) 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 2,800 children have been enrolled in the programme, more than half of them girls. 53% 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 812 children are already enrolled in their first or second 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 SAD trained kindergarten teachers.

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Innovation Overview
3 - 6
Age Group
Tips for implementation
We use a child-friendly, sport and 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. Learn more here: http://sad.ch/en/news-media/publications/learning-through-play/
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HundrED Review

In rural India, Early childhood Education is not the norm, especially for ‘Dalit’ children. Move and Improve works with local communities to develop Early Childhood spaces that are sustainable and cost-effective.


Move & Improve centres have an extremely low drop out rate and 826 children have graduated from the programme. The programme has been shown to build the curiosity and love of learning in children, develop positive social relationships, helps parents and the local community feel empowered.


2,821 children aged 2-6 have been admitted to the centres. We have also started implementing a similar model in Palestine.


See this innovation in action

An approach that works
Move & Improve – Early Childhood Development for Disadvantaged Children in India
I have read the toolkit and would like to congratulate the authors and others working on the project. The project is innovative because of the way it uses play in a child-friendly way to achieve educational outcomes while providing all the practical resources needed. The toolkit is well-written and well-structured, making it appropriate and easy to use for kindergarten teachers. Paul Hunt (Project Manager of the International Platform on Sport and Development - sportanddev.org)
Paul Hunt
Babbu's story
Building on local resources and support
Toolkit "Learning through Play"


Achievements & Awards


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