For the Children, by the Children: Improving Early Childhood Development Programs by Gauri Khanduja (F’19)

by tuftsigl
Jul 15

I am spending the summer in Kigali, Rwanda, interning with Search for Common Ground (Search), an international non-profit that works in conflict transformation in about 36 countries. While, it is my first time in the region, my project perfectly aligns with the coursework I took during my first year at Fletcher and my past work experience in finding innovative, pedagogical methods for children.

During my time at Search, I will be working with the Institutional Learning team, helping them with an evaluation for UNICEF’s Early Childhood Radio Program called “Itetero”, which means “children's nurturing space” in Kinyarwanda.

The program involves working with children ages 3-6, using innovative games to assess whether the radio program’s messaging resonates with its listeners. The games are designed to test early childhood development across various dimensions, i.e. cognitive, physical, social, emotional. The project is designed to feedback from children, their parents and other key stakeholders such as community leaders and early childhood development experts.

We will be using five radio episodes with themes such as body parts, body hygiene, solving conflict, parental care, and gender equality.

My role will involve supporting the team in designing tools for data collection, capturing quality data, and analyzing and sharing it with UNICEF in a final report.

This project is a great fit for me because it allows me to apply the invaluable knowledge that I gained during my first year at Fletcher on monitoring and evaluating such designs.  At the same time, it will help me learn something new, i.e. how to design a project that involves children under the age of 6 and about the ethical and practical considerations of working with children

Since this is my first time in Rwanda, I am currently spending time understanding the history, politics and culture of the region.  This includes reading books such as “We Wish to Inform You” by Philip Gourevitch, having conversations with people from within and outside the region, brushing up on my French, among other things to better prepare for my stay.