Exposure of children to early childhood development programs and subsequent school entry and grade progression within broader contexts of the home environment in Uganda




Nyeko, Jolly Peninnah Tumuhairwe

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Children’s entry into school at appropriate ages and their successful progression through the primary grades are strong predictors of later life opportunities and successes. This retrospective study focuses on factors that can influence age appropriate school entry and grade progression with children who were eight at the time of the study and who live in a peri-urban community in Uganda. Children in this resource constrained community face risks of educational exclusion and longer term underachievement that arise from social, health and economic disadvantages, inequalities and inadequate services. The most disadvantaged children, those who live in households with life stress events such as the absence of one or more parents or the impact of diseases such as HIV and AIDS, are at risk of not enrolling in school at an appropriate age or not advancing successfully. Such risks may be mediated through family composition and family demographic variables and may be ameliorated through the presence of community programs designed for young children. This study examined the influence of family variables, home environment life stress events, and exposure to early childhood development (ECD) services on the educational transitions of young children. The study determined that children living with biological parents, and parents with higher educational levels, had more opportunities of exposure to community-based ECD programs, had higher success in enrolling in school at an age-appropriate time, and more successfully progressed through the grade levels. For the purposes of this study, data were collected from 535 children and their 535 caregivers in the peri-urban community of Kyanja in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. The findings provide a backdrop for a discussion regarding the relationship between home environment life stress events, community ECD services for young children, and the current educational status of children aged eight years. A major focus lies on whether enrolment in ECD can help close the gap created by events in and the structure of the home environment.



early childhood development, life stress events, school entry, grade progression, home environment, HIV, AIDS