Background

In the early 1990s, basic care was thought sufficient to ensure the well-being of an infant before formal education begins at the primary school level. However, an explosion of knowledge in early childhood development over the past decade has shown that the first 1,000 days, roughly three years from birth to age three, represent a crucial period of learning and development. Research has shown that while individuals continue to adapt throughout life, 85 percent of brain development takes place during the fetal and early childhood stages. During this critical window, the brain’s neural circuits are formed and strengthened, and key learning capacities risk being lost without adequate attention or stimulation.

Children living in severe poverty and adverse situations, including violence, neglect, malnutrition, chronic infections, and exposure to environmental toxins, are at an elevated risk of impaired cognitive function. An infant who lacks consistent and nurturing interactions—being left at home during the working hours—is at an increased risk of sustained activation of the brain’s stress responses, which disrupts neural circuits necessary for memory and learning. This can also predispose the child to stress-related physical and mental disorders throughout his or her life.

This catapults into a worldwide economic emergency affecting international trade and economic growth. Globally, the effects of malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of life cost $1.4 trillion to $2.1 trillion a year, the equivalent of 2 to 3 percent of global GDP in lost economic productivity. The reality is these losses are preventable with effective service provision during early childhood.

Failure to protect and nurture development during the early years not only erodes the rights of millions of children to reach their full potential, but also locks individuals and communities into inter-generational cycles of poverty.

Education begins from the moment the child is brought home from the hospital and continues on when the child starts to attend playgroups and kindergartens. The learning capabilities of humans continue for the rest of their lives but not at the intensity that is demonstrated in the preschool years. With this in mind, babies and children need positive early learning experiences to help their intellectual, social and emotional development and this lays the foundation for later school success.

Research has shown that children enrolled in pre pre-school programs benefit by receiving formal education before they start preschool. According to some studies, children enrolled in these programs are more behaved and have higher IQ scores upon enrolling in pre-school than their peers without formal education. Likewise, it was shown that these children learned quicker than those who did not enroll in these programs.

The recent rapid urban population growth and relative lack of attention to urban poverty, has possibly exacerbated multi-dimensional deprivation, including deprivation of education, in urban areas. The total number of poor and undernourished individuals living in urban areas has increased since the 1980s.

Over the years, there has been much debate over which type of program qualifies as care and which as education. Increasingly, child development research shows that – regardless of the setting – quality early childhood education must include both warm, nurturing care and enriched learning experiences designed to stimulate a child’s development in all key developmental areas: cognitive, physical, and social-emotional. A well-educated and caring staff, high program standards, and a curriculum based on a child’s developmental needs are among the most important components of a high-quality early learning environment.

Globally, there has been a trend toward establishing early childhood frameworks, with 34 countries adopting comprehensive systems in the past four years, and 50 more currently in the process of developing policies. In the past five years, many countries have responded with robust policy frameworks, including Ghana and Ethiopia. In Kenya, the government has put forth a complex early childhood development architecture situated within the larger Education for All movement—signaling a strong direction, but supported by a meager annual budget of $3.9 million. This represents less than 0.2 percent of the country’s total budget for education, or less than $1 per child per year—hardly sufficient to ensure access to affordable early childhood care.

To combat the challenge of being donor-dependent, a handful of innovative social enterprises have begun leveraging core business concepts to provide child care to low-income families in a financially sustainable and scalable way.

That is where Sneho enters with the big picture of presenting a great model for all to follow and implement worldwide, to ensure early childhood education for the urban slum children. With its various products and services targeted at each segment, this brand is bound to make a breakthrough and help to reduce the knowledge and word gap among the under-privileged children. The products and services include Sneho’s Maternity Support Service, Sneho Mat, introduction to Role Models and University Students, collaboration with Mobile Rhymes & Story Telling Services and Social Radio along with another brand value, Box of Sneho. All these aid to ensure a caring and interactive learning model from which the children will benefit due to its consistency and repetitive measures.

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