Center for Educations Innovations: Little Ripples
Little Ripples is an adaptable, refugee-led, and cost-effective early childhood education program. Little Ripples builds the capacity of refugee women to improve the social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development of refugee children, ages three to five, in their community. In partnership with families, refugee homes are selected across a refugee camp and adapted into safe and appropriate learning spaces called Little Ripples Ponds (Ponds).
One Little Ripples Pond hosts two teachers and 45 children from its surrounding homes. Using existing homes reduces the upfront costs of school construction, immediately reduces multiple barriers of access for children and teachers—especially girls and women—and provides a safe space for children and teachers. Refugee women are recruited and trained in the foundations of early childhood development, management, and leadership; and employed to serve as the camp coordinators, education directors, teachers, and cooks of Little Ripples.
The Little Ripples curriculum is a pre-established, evidence-based outline that trains and guides refugee teachers in mindfulness, play-based literacy and numeracy, empathy and social emotional development, positive behavior management and protection, peacebuilding, and hygiene practices for young children. Following training, employed teachers uniquely complete the curriculum outline by adding their own stories, songs, local cultural traditions, and language. This outline ensures refugee children receive an equal standard of quality of learning that is relevant to their respective social and cultural contexts.
Many humanitarian actors recognize the importance of early childhood development (ECD), yet on a large scale, ECD remains seriously under-prioritized in emergency and protracted responses to a growing global humanitarian crisis. In 2014, pre-primary education received just 1.15% of the total humanitarian education budget. As a result, ECD programs which serve refugee and displaced children are chronically underfunded. Little Ripples fills this gap in early childhood development programs in emergency settings.