Thursday, May 31, 2018

Using Cross-Border Leadership and Networks to Influence National Policy and Implementation



Dear Friends,

Reproducing an article courtesy of the Association of Childhood Education International (ACEI)

Diplomatic Virtues to Build Consensus
“In shaping policies at various levels, there is a need for utilizing multi-sectoral synergies, collaborations and alliances in influencing policy changes and to be respected by government and partners.”

— Patrick Makokoro, Founder of the Nhaka Foundation




Education Diplomacy uses the skills of diplomacy to bridge divides between sectors, diverse actors, and borders to address education challenges and move transformative education agendas forward. The practice of Education Diplomacy includes interactions that cultivate partnerships, create shared value, and shape consensus about mutually beneficial solutions that position education as a force for positive change in the world. Patrick Makokoro, founder of the Nhaka Foundation in Zimbabwe, offers this sage advice for practicing Education Diplomacy to lead and cultivate the partnerships that can bring about transformative change: “Patience and perseverance are virtues; [we can build on] small gains to achieve bigger successes. Confrontation with governing systems results in polarization, and thus relations have to be cordial and professional.” In this way, interactions can create the shared value and consensus necessary for broad-based change.
Collaboration to shape ECD policy
“In shaping policies at various levels,”  Mr. Makokoro says, “there is a need for utilizing multi-sectoral synergies, collaborations and alliances in influencing policy changes and to be respected by government and partners.” 
To advance early childhood education in Zimbabwe, Mr. Makokoro did just that, using Education Diplomacy to build national, regional, and international networks and leverage them to advance national early childhood development (ECD) policy.
Mr. Makokoro founded the Nhaka Foundation in 2007. The Foundation works across all 10 provinces in Zimbabwe and “provides access to education, ECD basic health care, and daily sustenance for the orphaned and vulnerable children in the communities it serves. It provides support to ensure the creation of a physical environment conducive to learning, growth, and the optimal development of all children.” 
Developing Networks for Education Strategy Planning
After several years of direct service, Mr. Makokoro saw the need to coordinate and network with other child service providers. He, therefore, created the Zimbabwe Network of Early Childhood Development (ZINECDA), a national umbrella organization for ECD in 2012. In addition, the Nhaka Foundation is also a member of the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI). Through its leadership and engagement in these two important networks, the Nhaka Foundation was able to participate “fully in the shaping of the education planning through participating in the planning process of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE).” These two networks formed part of the civil society coalition informing Zimbabwe’s Education Sector Strategy Plan 2016-2020, developed with the Global Partnership for Education (http://www.globalpartnership.org/content/2016-2020-education-sector-plan-zimbabwe).
Stakeholder Engagement for Implementing Policy
In addition to influencing Zimbabwe’s national education strategy, the Nhaka Foundation also helps provide oversight for implementation of the strategic plan at various levels, which includes increasing direct access to education in over 30 schools in two provinces of Zimbabwe. In Mr. Makokoro’s words, “Issues of access and quality need to be addressed by harnessing all major stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, academia, professional associations, foundations, donor agencies, and local communities.”
Harnessing stakeholders involves engagement in regional and international networks as well. Mr. Makokoro became a founding member of the African Early Childhood Network, and the Nhaka Foundation also actively participates in the Association for Childhood Education International’s meetings and activities. Mr. Makokoro stresses, “Nations need to begin looking at these cross-country peer collaborations and learning as the gateway to promoting diversity as well as learning from one another.” He sees technology as one of the tools that can facilitate these cross-border collaborations, even at the teacher and classroom level. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Celebrating growth and transitions



Dear Friends,

New Year, new season here at Nhaka Foundation. This is a season of significant change at Nhaka Foundation, and we’re reminded of God’s awesomeness by Isaiah 43:19- “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

Having founded and established an organization that is truly responsive to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe and creating partnerships that have served over 20 000 children in the past 10 years, Patrick Makokoro announced his departure from the day to day role at Nhaka Foundation as of 31 December 2017. Prior to this departure, Patrick supported the mentorship and support of the incoming Director and remains available to support the growth of the organization as it positions itself for the next 10 years of service.

Patrick will continue to support the ongoing work of Nhaka Foundation and its team by joining the board of directors as Board President. Outside pursuing other career opportunities, Patrick will support Nhaka Foundation through partnership development and strategy. While we are saddened by the decision to transition from the day to day role, we are excited by the faithfulness of God throughout his 10 year journey at Nhaka Foundation and we are even more excited for his transition.

Along with the other members of the Nhaka Foundation Board of Directors, we are committed to the mission, vision and values that Patrick and Team Nhaka have created over thze years. To support this transition, Patrick has committed time to work with the new Director and staff to ensure that there is stability, growth and excellent delivery of service through out.

If you have questions about our transition process, please email us at info@nhakafoundation.org. On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, we are truly grateful as you journey with us supporting the orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.

Sincerely,

Ndaba Nkala


Nhaka Foundation, Deputy Board Chair

Friday, December 8, 2017

Zim 2018 Budget: A case for investment in ECD




Early Childhood Development: A case for increased investment

Reference is made to the recent Zimbabwe National Budget Statement presented by Hon. P.A Chinamasa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on the 7th of December 2017. As a staunch advocate of increased investment and expenditure in early childhood development, I noted with dismay the reduced investment on the same by the Honourable Minister.

The first years of life are important, because what happens in early childhood can matter for a lifetime. It is now common cause that learning starts in infancy, long before formal education begins, and continues throughout life. Infact at the World Conference for Education for All held in Jomtein, Thailand in 1990 it was widely adopted that Education begins at birth. The year 2000 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Prof James Hackman argues that early learning begets later learning and early success breeds later success, just as early failure breeds later failure. Thus success or failure at this stage lays the foundation for success or failure in school, which in turn leads to success or failure in post-school learning. Recent studies of early childhood investments in the developed world have shown remarkable success and indicate that the early years are important for early learning. Moreover, early childhood interventions of high quality have lasting effects on learning and motivation. Reading through the budget statement one gets the notion that the State would want to relegate this responsibility to parents and communities. Whilst parents are indeed the childs best teacher, there has to be a formalized way of ensuring that the gains that the previous administration were beginning to make in this sector are not lost. It would be foolhardy to think that some of the comprehensive strides made by the previous head of the education ministry should be thrown away. Zimbabweans have had various issues to raise against the former minister and rightly so, however I must hasten to say that there was some great work done in order to position the country as a regional model in the provision of early childhood development services in the country.

Over and above the ECD curriculum and teaching standards mentioned by the Finance Minister, Zimbabwe needs to develop and adopt a comprehensive Early Childhood Development Policy that will ensure standardization of service provision and ensure our young children are wholly supported. Indeed parents and communities have provided the backbone supportive services through engaging as para-professional teachers and as community caregivers this still needs to be buttressed by a policy that addresses play material, furnishing of ECD classrooms, pedagogical methods and renovation or construction of ECD classrooms.

Hon Finance Minister, paying salaries for qualified ECD teachers should indeed be a priority for the government if we are to move towards the New Economic Order No one should be left behind, children should in fact be at the forefront as they access what they need to grow to be responsible citizens of the nation and the world. Let not this burden be placed on the parents again, let the government begin to invest more in this, because the long term gains are there and research in this area has proved it time and again. Indeed there are multiple economic returns for the case of investing in Early Childhood Development that Zimbabwe will be able to reap. Whilst I understand the need to be prudent with available resources, also missing from the current budget for is consideration of priorities or recognition of the need to prioritize early childhood development. Unfortunately, in an era of tight government budgets, it is impractical to consider active investment program for all persons. The real question is how to use the available funds wisely. The best evidence supports the policy prescription: invest in the very young and improve basic learning and socialization skills.

If we are to move towards a New Economic Order then we need to quadruple the amount of money allocated to ECD. As a country, we cannot afford to postpone investing in children until they become adults, or even wait until they are in Grade 1 or 2, we need to start earlier. We cannot leave this to a time when at times it may be too late to intervene.


Patrick Makokoro
Founder

Nhaka Foundation