Educating children early matters

Patrick Makokoro, Founder and Director, Nhaka Foundation
June 21, 2017

Last month, I returned home to Zimbabwe after a whirlwind tour of the U.S. As the Founder and Director of the Nhaka Foundation in Zimbabwe, I work to give hundreds of kids every day the opportunity to experience early childhood education. On my tour, I was an advocate for millions more.

Why does an early education matter? Children start to learn the alphabet. They learn shapes and sounds. They begin to develop fine motor skills like cutting and folding. They enter the world of numbers. These opportunities are their right, but I don’t take them for granted.

Giving children an opportunity I didn’t have

When I was young, I didn’t have the chance to learn these essential skills. My own children laugh at me sometimes because I have trouble telling colors apart, like burgundy and red. I think many colors look the same. My children already know better because their education began early. I am still catching up, and probably will be the rest of my life.

This is why I’m so passionate about funding early childhood development programs. Every child around the world deserves to learn these basic skills at an early age. Their brains are incredibly flexible, with neural connections developing hundreds and thousands of times faster than adults. It’s a crucial time for their development.

GPE supports early learning

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is doing amazing work to support partner countries in investing in early learning. GPE is a powerful multilateral partnership working to fund education in the world’s poorest countries, inviting international donors to invest in their plan. It brings foundations, governments, organizations, and private donors together around a single purpose. We must continue to push our governments around the globe to fund it.  

I came to the U.S. to do a media tour about the GPE. I traveled to 11 cities, from Houston to Topeka, Charleston to Iowa City, meeting with RESULTS volunteers and their local media outlets to explain the power of education. I shared my story, hoping the editors would recognize the importance of this opportunity for the U.S. to fully fund its portion of the partnership.

As a result, nine media pieces were published, including 5 newspaper editorials. Here are two examples: “By giving children an education, GPE is giving them a chance,” (The Topeka Capital-Journal). “The United States can and should hold up its role in the world to promote education,” (Hutchinson News).

I was honored to meet with these editors and volunteers, and I take these experiences back with me to Zimbabwe. I look at my little children and I’m grateful that they know more about colors than I do. I want every child to get started on their education early in life, when it matters most.