picture of sign language mural on Little Rock wall

Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre

Little Rock was established in 2003 and is an inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre located in the urban slum area of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya. Little Rock provides a unique education for children aged 0-8, a third of whom are disabled. Little Rock is dedicated to creating an inclusive and empowering education environment where all children work and play together.

 Little Rock is situated in Kibera, on of Africa’s largest slums, and was started by Lilly Oyare who believed it to be deeply unfair that children in Kibera are already disadvantaged when they start primary school. Primary School is available free in Kenya, but the curriculum requires basic skills that most children in Kibera simply do not have. Most children in Kibera live in homes without proper sanitation and electricity, their parents are busy trying to make ends meet and do not have the resources to concentrate on their children’s early education. Lilly wanted all students to be able to ‘have the same chance of succeeding at school’ as her own children who had attended private pre-schools.

Little Rock as also established parents’ support group to provide emotional counselling to families and supports them to access healthcare and employment opportunities. The support Little Rock provides to children and families does not end once they graduate from the Early Childhood School. They continue to use the Little Rock library, receive after school tutoring and participate in sports teams and creative activities.

Little Rock is far more than just a school, providing an oasis of opportunity and supporting students far beyond their early years. Little Rock graduates go on to excel in their primary education, the vast majority of them are ranked at the top of their class.

 Little Rock has been a partner of AbleChildAfrica since 2006 and this partnership has significantly contributed towards the growth and development of the school.  AbleChildAfrica supports Little Rock with their ECD programmes as well as financial management training and mentorship, fundraising, strategic planning and investment in their income generating activities. We also provide Governance support to the Trustees.

On 7th July 2011, Euromoney held their annual Awards for Excellence Dinner, one of the most prestigious banking awards ceremonies in the industry. AbleChildAfrica was fortunate to be chosen as the benefiting charity on the night, which brought together some of the biggest names in the banking industry to raise enough money to build a bigger and better compound for Little Rock.  This new oasis in the heart of Kibera is a centre for excellence and has nearly doubled the number of children Little Rock can reach, bringing much needed services to children and families.  In 2014, AbleChildAfrica further invested in this by providing large water tanks, solar panels and computer for the computer lab.

 Kibera, where Little Rock is based, is Africa’s largest slum and houses 1 million people, approximately 100,000 of which are disabled. Kenya has a system of free Universal Primary Education, but the curriculum requires basic skills that most children in Kibera do not have. The majority of children in Kibera are living in poverty with homes without sanitation and electricity and many parents, despite their efforts, do not have the resources to finance private nursery schools. Little Rock provides children of all abilities the opportunity to gain the skills they need to enter primary school, and supports them and their families beyond.

AbleChildAfrica has previously worked with Little Rock on the following projects:

AbleChildAfrica has worked with Little Rock to establish a School Feeding Programme which provides breakfast and lunch to all the children who attend the school and a further snack for the after school programme. These balanced and nutritious meals are often the only food the children will get during the day and this both increases their ability to concentrate in school and helps ensure their regular attendance. The school feeding programme at Little Rock is an essential tool in the development and growth of disabled children in Kibera.

Income Generation Activities

AbleChildAfrica has supported Little Rock with establishing an income generating tailored workshop. This involved providing equipment, materials and business planning support. For example in 2014, we were able to purchase a new machine for them to start producing jumpers for the children.

AbleChildAfrica is currently working with Little Rock in the following areas:

Early Childhood Education Programme

AbleChildAfrica continues to support the running of the educational programme at Little Rock by sourcing funds to cover the costs of school activities, including paying teacher salaries, providing learning materials and offering continuing professional development for staff.

Primary School Inclusive Education Project

Little Rock found that disabled children who had graduated Little Rock and were ready to transfer to primary school, were being denied enrolment by neighbouring primary schools. In 2016, AbleChildAfrica and Little Rock started working with 3 local government schools in Kibera to improve their understanding of inclusive education, and provide practical support to enable them to enrol Little Rock graduates. Through training teachers, working with parents and advocating for inclusion to school and community members, twelve children are already enrolled and succeeding in their new schools.

Teacher Training/ Skill Development

AbleChildAfrica offers regular professional training to existing and new staff at Little Rock. In particular, we have worked with them to upskill their finance team and device systems for good financial management as they grew rapidly over the last few years.  We also offer mentoring to the Senior Management and Board of Trustees in key areas such as financial management, fundraising, good governance and HR practices.

Together AbleChildAfrica and Little Rock have identified the following next steps and are currently seeking funding to deliver the following activities:

Early Childhood Education Programme

AbleChildAfrica continue to support Little Rock on their road to sustainability. We are seeking funding to support teachers’ salaries and additional training in inclusive and special needs teaching methodologies.

Scale up of Primary School Inclusive Education Project

Following the success of the pilot project working with neighbouring primary schools, AbleChildAfrica and Little Rock are currently seeking funding to support a scale up of the project. This project will not only support children from Little Rock to transfer to local primary schools, but outreach to other disabled children in the community who have not been fortunate to attend an ECD centre. Little Rock will be able to use their experience to support children into education, and work more in-depth with local schools to improve teacher skills in inclusive education and improve accessible facilities. The project will also lobby the Government and hold them to account to their stated obligations to offer inclusive education to all students.

Income Generating Activities

As part of our commitment to sustainability, AbleChildAfrica is currently working with Little Rock to further develop their income generating activities, which includes a tailoring business which makes school uniforms, aprons and costumes. We are currently seeking support to develop this business as well as other potential income sources such as a catering business.

 

If you would like to learn more about, get involved with or provide funding for any of the above projects please contact Lauren Watters, Programme Development Manager, on lauren@ablechildafrica.org.uk

 

Back end operations and financial management support is good! We need to keep building these skills.
Lilly Oyare
Director, Little Rock

 

How you can help

Just £5 a month could provide nutritious food for a child for an entire month.  Whatever you can give can help provide vital life changes for children living in poverty.

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Humble Beginnings

In this video we celebrate our history with Little Rock by looking back at where it all started.  Little Rock started in a single rented room with 5 students, within 1 month students 100 had registered.  Within 3 months parents of disabled children started knocking on Little Rock’s door.  Today, Little Rock serves over 500 children, over 1/3 of whom are disabled.