Breaking the cycle of poverty through early literacy support and teacher empowerment in early childhood education

Document Type

Book Chapter


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


The majority of people in Southern and Eastern Africa (SEA) including Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda live in rural areas on less than two dollars a day. The countries however share education values based on the conviction that education will transform society and as a result have embraced the Millennium Development (MDG) and Education for All (EFA) Goals as benchmarks for their educational reform agenda. SEA countries are largely faced with a situation where families are saddled by and cannot break from the cycle of poverty partly because of lack of children’s sustainable school access. Sustained access to meaningful learning is critical to long term improvements in productivity, the reduction of intergenerational cycles of poverty, demographic transition, preventive health care, the empowerment of women and reduction of poverty. This paper argues that this will depend very much on constructive early year’s teacher pedagogical practices among other factors. An expanded definition of education access includes concerns for attendance as well as enrolment, progression at the appropriate age, achievement of learning goals, equitable access to opportunities to learn and availability of an adequate learning environment. This paper uses the UNESCO Millennium Development Goals as its framework to advocate early years teachers’ further in-school training and development. It utilizes a descriptive analytical methodology to contribute to the reflective discussion on educational reforms for transformation based mainly on examples from three countries in SEA given above. It mainly focuses on the role that teachers can play in enhancing sustainable access to Early Literacy through adequate training. The paper utilizes findings from studies in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda as the backdrop of the challenges facing the education systems. The paper concludes that every effort is required to promote early years pedagogies that will lead to more sustainable school access and the escape from the poverty cycle in Southern and Eastern Africa.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Education in One World: Perspectives from Different Nations. BCES Conference Books