I have not yet received a response from anyone I contacted. So instead, I visited Harvard University’s “Global Children’s Initiative” website (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/initiatives/global_initiative/) and here are some things I learned.
In an effort to build an integrated international approach to child survival, health, and development in the earliest years of life, the Center on the Developing Child has launched the Global Children’s Initiative as the centerpiece of its global child health and development agenda. The Global Children’s Initiative seeks to advance the Center’s core mission globally. They plan to do so by implementing a compelling research, public engagement and leadership development agenda in child health and development that is grounded in science and engages researchers, public leaders, practitioners, and students from a wide range of institutions around the world.
One of those includes Zambia. I was unaware that although a large number of studies have been done to study the impact of early childhood experiences on children’s developmental, health, and educational outcomes in developed countries, little evidence is available on early childhood development in sub-Saharan Africa. Because of this lack of information, a collaborative effort to measure the effects of an ongoing anti-malaria initiative on children’s development in Zambia has been launched. It is called the Zambian Early Childhood Development Project (ZECDP) and it was launched in 2009 by the Zambian Ministry of Education, the Examination Council of Zambia, UNICEF, the University of Zambia, and the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The ZECDP created a comprehensive instrument for assessing children’s physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive development before and throughout their schooling careers. This is the first assessment tool of its kind in Zambia. Completed in May 2010, the Zambian Child Assessment Test (ZamCAT) combines existing child development measures with newly developed items in order to provide a broad assessment of children of preschool age in the Zambian context.
There was also an extensive amount of information on this site about the Science of Early Childhood Education. Through this information I read more in depth about a few things I had learned in previous classes such as how learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy development. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.