Raising Indigenous Intellectualism in Early Childhood      Through Agricultural Education in Ethiopia

Raising Indigenous Intellectualism in Early Childhood Through Agricultural Education in Ethiopia

Title: Raising Indigenous Intellectualism in Early Childhood through Agricultural Education in Ethiopia

Seminar Recording

Join us for a dialogue on the importance of embedding the tenets of Ethiopia’s indigenous agricultural systems in curriculum and instruction during the early years. Early Childhood Education Ethiopia, is committed to empowering the next generation of children to fully understand, utilize and contribute toward food security not only in their immediate community but also in the country and the larger continent of Africa.
As an organization, we are deeply rooted in investing in the first five years of life. As such, we are laying the foundational work of providing the space for children to gain early conceptual knowledge of what it means to grow your food, own your food, and become the driver of agricultural gains in Ethiopia. Our aim and objective with this seminar are to amplify the strategic role of agricultural education in the PK-16 paradigm in order to achieve food security and surpass sustainability goals.


Why Play Matters Most in Early Education Programs

Why Play Matters Most in Early Education Programs

Play is learning for children, it is how they get to know their world. Children use play to solve complex problems like grasping a ball escaping from their hands or displaying joy after an accomplishment and frustration when required to try again and again. Children make noises and the environment responds gleefully, this simple back and forth from loved ones, serves as the foundation for early literacy, self-regulation, hand-eye coordination providing the groundwork for communication, forming friendships, and a deeper understanding that as they grow, their knowledge of the world through playful experiences also grows.

Play helps children find meaning in a world that is getting more and more unpredictable. From COVID to war and disasters, children are often left to wonder why their surrounding has failed to protect them. Through play, children can find places for experiences they may have a hard time fully comprehending. When children play, their imagination safely explores areas that may be difficult to talk about.  Children engage in what Lev Vygotsky referred to as inner speech where they self-talk, assessing what has occurred, what they are engaged in, and possible solutions. 

This allows children to release pensive thoughts, and map out strategies on how to use play for both fun and problem-solving skills. Developmentally speaking, play goes through different stages; starting with unoccupied/solitary play during infancy where we see babies putting their hands in and out of their mouth, fully engaged in coordination, sensation, and movement. During toddlerhood, children quickly move into the onlooker stage of play where they realize other people like them play as well. And they find it increasingly entertaining to see peers playing, from a safe distance. As children enter the preschool years, they transition from the parallel stage of play to associative, where it is more interactive with others. As children become more independent and can articulate their needs, play with peers becomes more common and successfully charged. Free and busy play allows the mind and body to use the environment in a way that responds to children’s ideas and wants. Too much direction from adults compromises play, encouragement, adding to play sequences, and promoting child-directed activities helps children reach higher levels of cognitive, social-emotional, and linguistic abilities as experience is the driver of development.

Play is the most complete curriculum when implemented as the primary focus for teaching and learning. The education paradigm in early learning programs should move away from outcome-based to process-oriented whereby it allows children to simply play and play more. Children are not made to sit and learn, movement is how they acquire knowledge. Children learn best using their five senses, in a responsive setting, where teachers/caregivers are more invested in their interests, desires, and abilities. When the environment is developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant, children exponentially advance their understanding of the foundations necessary to acquire advanced concepts in math, science, social studies, and much more. 

Play is learning and learning should be play-filled in early childhood education programs now more than ever. 
Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences

      Adversity occurs in childhood through many ways. It can range from war, loss of a family member, abuse, neglect, resource scarcity to name a few. For many children, these unwanted experiences create barriers causing severe developmental disruption which later translate into a list of health concerns. Currently, children in Ethiopia continue to experience trauma from war, displacement, and acts of violence that are difficult for them to understand. Such trauma leaves children with fear, distrust, and anxiousness beyond their control. This affects children behavior, disposition and can augment their developmental trajectory negatively.

      The assaultive nature of trauma can be detrimental to the developing brain but we also know employing strategies found in Trauma-Informed Care can influence, restructure and help children process these undesirable, even damaging episodes, to be more manageable; assisting the young mind in creating pathways that informs rather than compromising it permanently. By intervening early and applying therapeutic measures consistently, we can reduce the devastation on children’s developmental outcomes. Using strategies found in Trauma-Informed Care has shown to have both immediate and long-term positive results.

      Applying developmentally appropriate strategies that are respectful in approach and culturally relevant to the child’s norm, practitioners, parents, caregivers, and teachers can help children open up, discuss and express their feelings. Using a medium such as play, art, and other activities that are comfortable to the children, the path towards recovery can begin. The brain is most sensitive, highly malleable before age 5, and even more adaptable during infancy and toddlerhood (before age 3). Our knowledge of trauma-informed care practices should be included in discussions about rehabilitation, emergency support, and relocation of those affected by the current war, COVID, public health crisis or other ongoing challenges in the context of Ethiopia. For those under extreme and ongoing stress, preparing professionals on how to create responsive caregiving practices using the frameworks provided in TIC in conjunction with our cultural norms will help children and families develop skills to mitigate and absolve some of the trauma incurred abruptly or due to persistent inequities. 

Trauma Informed Care - Training & Treatment Innovations


Launching Project Alpha

Part of Early Childhood Education Ethiopia’s mission and vision is to improve existing pre-primary learning environments. With Project Alpha, we will lay the foundation on how to implement progressive and generational long lasting early learning environments. In phase one, we will start the  process of studying, renovating, and improving two programs. One located in the city of Addis Ababa, and the other, outside Bahir Dar, representing the rural site. Over the next several months,  we will be looking into environments, pedagogical approaches, children’s learning patterns, and comprehensively assess the progress of these two early education sites.. We know parents are our partners in children’s education, and know their participation plays an influential role in all areas of children’s development and educational outcome. As such, we will develop and strengthen our interaction, communication and encourage involvement in all aspects and at every step of the way. The picture above represents thegateway to the future. Children grow and develop using both nature, passed down from their parents, and nurture what they receive from the environment. The environment matters greatly in shaping how children learn, think and understand the world. The first five years is critical partly because the brain is actively involved with what the child sees, touches, tastes, recording and interpreting this information into knowledge. We want to ensure we provide children with meaningful experiences, to equip them with a wide range of tools to use for the rest of their lives. Therefore, a major part of Early Childhood Education Ethiopia will be paying close attention to the environment children come from and enter to learn and play.

Changing the Early Learning LandscapeChanging the Early Learning Landscape

Early Education’s effectiveness is often examined from a kindergarten readiness standpoint. But the years and grades (toddlers-pre-k) or (KG 1-3) defined in pre-primary education requires contextual attention. What children begin to understand at 2 years of age, can be built on at age 4 with more rigor, expanding on existing knowledge and challenging the growing mind. In addition, while learning happens both inside and outside the classroom, we know the outdoors provides the optimal space for the imagination to grow and develop.

Updates from Early Childhood Education Ethiopia

Fundraiser: In December, we participated in the GivingTuesday campaign, securing approximately 13K  donations. We are filled with gratitude for the support, encouragement and kindness everyone continues to show our organization. The board fully understands the challenges and uncertainties, we are, which makes the current contribution that much more meaningful as it highlights the gentleness that still exists in this world. Your donation will directly go to Project Alpha supporting the schools mentioned above. As we progress with this phase, we will be updating you with news through future newsletters and on our social media platforms.

February Symposium: We are currently working on finalizing a collaborative online seminar focused on bringing attention to children’s education, care and policy in Ethiopia. The future begins with what we do with children today. This seminar aims to bring awareness on current policies and practices, ways to invest in children and how using unifying agendas are important to the direction of early childhood education and Ethiopia.

Volunteerism, Partnership and Collaboration: Since inception, ECEE has received numerous requests for collaboration, volunteerism and partnership. As a young organization with a broad vision and mission, we know our partnership with agencies, institutions and individuals are important as we move forward. We have started a database and currently taking in information from all individuals and organizations seeking partnership. Please note if you have contacted us in the past, you have been added to our list. New inquiries, please visit our site for further information.

We thank you for your continued support!uncertainties, we

Updates from Early Childhood Education Ethiopia

Development and Learning


Children learn and understand their world using their senses. They manipulate experiences gathered as they interact with their surroundings (home, siblings, church, school) into information that will help them assimilate new concepts and accommodate complex ideas. Because there are variances in the depth and breadth of experiences children are offered, their knowledge or comprehension of how things function is diverse. Often, when children of the same age group are provided curricular activities such as spelling, basic arithmetic, and science projects, we see a range in the way they explain and express their thoughts over the new information. This is due to early experiences that influence strategies children use to comprehend new or advanced ideas resulting in the scientific explanation found in neurodiversity theory.  Neurodiversity is displayed in children’s disposition which includes their emotional expression, information processing, comfort in physical proximity with others, social interaction, sensory preference, and much more. We mustn’t define neurodiversity as a deficit or delay but rather as strength and a tool for instructors especially in the pre-primary (early childhood programs), to use with adjusting instruction to be more student-centered rather than test or outcome-oriented. 

We need to celebrate children’s diverse abilities, create programs and learning opportunities that connect the child to their environment, and move away from a one size fits all method. Neurodiversity enriches early education programs, assists children with deep imaginative capabilities to have a space in a classroom that appreciates their valuable contribution and provides a sense of belonging.

Board Member News

Dr. Jyotsna Pattnaik was awarded the ORSP multidisciplinary research grant along with three other faculty members from CSULB. The project titled “Improving STEM Education by Integrating Geospatial Technologies into K-8 Mathematics Curriculum”, is a research project with experts from Early Childhood Education, Mathematics Education, and Geospatial Science. The study will be applied in the Los Angeles area schools, adding to the emerging body of research related to science and math in the pre-primary-elementary education paradigm. We are proud that our very own Dr. Pattnaik is leading in STEM-related research that will impact the future here and around the world.

Dr. Charles Slater received the Outstanding Faculty Award, for his wide contributions in the area of Research, Creativity, and Scholarly Activity. Dr. Slater has supervised student dissertations with research projects focused on Social Justice, Equity, International Research to name a few. His experience and expertise is a valuable asset in guiding students throughout their doctoral dissertation journey and post scholarship engagement. Congratulations to Dr. Pattnaik and Dr. Slater!

Updates from Early Childhood Education EthiopiaUpdates from Early Childhood Education Ethiopia

Shortly after our organization set out to implement phase one- Project Alpha- in Ethiopia, the world shut down due to  COVID-19. As we were all adjusting to our new normal, the death of George Floyd set out a historical precedence that ignited a global demonstration of the ongoing injustice Black people face here in the U.S and worldwide. In June,  Ethiopia also experienced civil disturbance after a young musician-activist was killed causing unrest throughout the country. As we re-evaluate the way forward and renew our commitment to the mission and vision of Early Childhood Education Ethiopia, we are more clear, determined, and focused on attaining the goals set in our projects. We know the way forward is through children; this is the driving force behind what we do.

We thank you for your continued support!