Location: swaziland

April in Africa

Last year HHI spent April in Paris, where our Founder/Director, presented at UNESCO’s Education for All event.  And while that was absolutely lovely, this year it has been our pleasure to spend April in Africa, specifically in Swaziland with our partners at the Bantwana Initiative.  Together, we are working with the Ministry of Education and Training to create the country’s first formal training program for preschool teachers.

This month 15 officers from the Ministry graduated as Master Trainers, and then together we trained 18 preschool teachers in the new program. It was an exciting week, as we all learned from each other and built a new system of support that will serve hundreds (and later we hope thousands!) of the country’s most vulnerable young children. (We may also gotten to serve some of the cutest!)


Preschool students in Lumbumbo, Swaziland

Our thanks to Bantwana, World Education and the generous funding of the Open Society Institute of South Africa.

Teaching & Learning in Swaziland

Last week more than 25 preschool teachers, teaching assistants, and officers from Swaziland’s Ministry of Education and Training joined together to participate in a teacher training designed to better support the teachers, the children and the communities at large.

This was part two of a project that HHI is collaborating on with World Education’s Bantwana Initiative.  During part one, we all met and spent a week in May working on the design of what was most relevant and useful to support preschool teachers.  That led to the creation of a brand new workbook for the teachers, that was thick with a wide variety of useful information and that fit snugly together with some of the great materials already created by the Ministry.

Together with the Early Childhood Care and Education Inspector from Lubombo, I led a training on the new materials and on overarching principles and practices of teaching preschool age children, much of which involves supporting children to play, explore and experiment.  Our time together was action packed, as we talked about how to organize the indoor and outdoor areas for learning, how to use themes, creating routines, the different types of play and so much more!  We all worked together in large and small groups, reviewing all the new materials and practicing how to teach and interact with the preschoolers in the classrooms.

This was a new project for HHI to be involved with and I must say, it was really fun!  Here are some of the quotes from our preschool teacher participants on what they thought of the experience:

  •  “it was perfect”  “it was good, it had plenty of illustrations on teaching children. I now feel confident.”
  • “Now I will always make a lesson plan to make my work easy, I learned that I must be prepared.”
  • “It was great! I’ve been longing for something formal that I can use at the center. With this new material I think we will go a long way with it as teachers there will be a great change because we now have a strong tool with themes.”
  • “I feel very confident because if I get confused I can refer to the book for a solution.”
  • “I think Laura has to come back.  Laura was very, very good.”
  • “I feel confident because of the new materials, they are useful to me and I got some tips, as like a teachers you must involve your students to your lessons and be creative.”
  • “I think the new materials will improve our student education.”
  • “Now I will have improved preparation and classroom arrangement.”

I hope HHI does get to go back and help take this new training to the next level.  Many thanks to our amazing colleagues at the Bantwana Initiative, and the Ministry of Education and Training.

And, one of my favorite parts of this whole experience? This is how we started everyday of the training – close your eyes and let this transport you to the heart and soul of Swaziland!

Greetings from Swaziland!

Greetings from Swaziland!  I arrived here last week to launch a new partnership.  HHI is now working here on a project with World Education, Bantwana Initiative.  Together we are collaborating with the government, a variety of non-profits and preschool teachers to support the country’s “National Care Points”.  Beginning in 2002, these NCPs popped up around the country to respond to the urgent needs of children orphaned or who were otherwise vulnerable, as their communities struggled with pandemic levels of HIV, ongoing drought and poverty.  These centers triaged the immediate humanitarian emergency, acting as points of emergency food aid, psychosocial support, health service and care provision for young children.

Now, ten years later, these care centers have morphed into permanent fixtures and their caregivers have taken on the role of preschool teacher.  However, there has yet to be any formalized, systemic training to support these newly labeled “teachers” to lead early learning for the 30-50 children in their daily care.  Enter this project.

Here are a few photos from NCPs that I visited.

The young ones are very friendly and always playful!

The materials are simple. Though some have a wealth of materials, but leave them untouched, either unsure how to use them, or not wanting to damage resources seen as precious and irreplaceable.


For many of the children, this is the primary meal for the day.

This week we gather to develop training and support materials to educate and empower NCP caregivers in their roles as preschool teachers.  The local leaders we are working with are smart, committed, dynamic and on the move!  We’ve had an action packed week – sharing, learning, teaching and exploring.  Our work looks a lot like an HHI training, with games, songs, work groups, and the process is endlessly creative.

Readily available resources were gathered and transformed into teaching tools.


We designed our own preschools, inside and out.


The end result will be that Swaziland’s most vulnerable children will benefit with greater support, improved early learning and healthier environments.