“I like to come to the centre because I want to play and learn. Mostly I like to play!” says five-year-old Roni, of the early childhood development (ECD) centre he has attended for the past two years in rural Timor-Leste.
At Roni’s age, access to appropriate play, stimulation and social interaction is crucial to his lifelong development and success. At home, his favourite activity is playing with his neighbour. He also helps his mother and father with some simple chores.
He attends an ECD centre in his community that ChildFund helped establish. For seven years the centre has provided a safe and supportive environment, as well as trained teachers and high-quality learning resources. “In the school, I feel good because I have a lot of friends,” says Roni.
His community of about 1,200 people depend mainly on subsistence farming for survival. Despite being located less than 250 kilometres from Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili, it takes five hours by car to reach Roni’s village because of poor roads and rugged terrain.
Due to its isolation the community has not always had the resources to support an ECD centre. In fact, according to the Timorese government nine out of 10 children in Timor-Leste do not have access to pre-primary education.
ChildFund currently supports 76 ECD centres throughout the country; ensuring more than 3,300 children under the age of five are on the path to reaching their full potential.