Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah visited Save the Children's early childhood development program “Khatawat” or “Steps” on January 9 in Amman.

The visit was part of her continuous efforts to bring attention to the need for early learning opportunities for children in Jordan and the Middle East region.

“We are honored to have had Queen Rania as our guest at our Khatawat early childhood development program,” said Paulette Hassell, co-country director of Save the Children in Jordan. “Her Majesty is an extraordinary champion of early childhood development, and her advocacy for investing in children’s early years is critical for the success of these efforts.”

Hassell said, “Eighty-five percent of a child’s brain growth and development occurs by age 3. That is why access to early child care and development services matter. Research shows that comprehensive early childhood development programs — whether in informal home settings or in formal early childhood settings — are the key to school and life success.”

While at the Parent Child Center, Her Majesty Queen Rania joined a group of mothers for a story-writing workshop, where mothers were taught how to write stories that help children learn. Through the program, mothers are also shown how to make interactive learning tools for their children using recycled materials from home.

Later, Her Majesty joined in the fun at the center’s play area. Creative play is an important part of a young child’s learning and development. In the play area, children ages 3 to 5 were painting, holding puppet shows and role-playing. The play area is a key component of the Parent Child Center model. While mothers are enjoying learning, children can interact with other children their age. The play area provides access to a protective, age-appropriate, interactive and child-friendly space.

A boy pretends to be a doctor with Queen Rania.

A boy pretends to be a doctor with Queen Rania.

Early Learning for Iraqi Refugee Children and Jordanian Children

Khatawat, launched in 2008, helps provide vulnerable Iraqi refugee children and Jordanian children with increased access to safe, child-centered learning environments at Parent Child Centers and kindergartens. It is an initiative of Save the Children, the Jordanian Ministry of Education, the Jordanian Ministry of Social Development and community-based organizations.

Since Khatawat began, more than 120 kindergarten teachers and Parent Child Center staff, and 750 mothers were trained in basic early childhood development techniques, including how to engage children as active learners. In addition, a training hall at the Ministry of Education was renovated, 24 kindergarten classrooms were renovated and provided with learning materials and equipment, and an additional five Parent Child Centers were renovated, equipped and furnished.

Funding for the program, provided by the World Bank, will end in June 2011, at which time the government and community-based organizations will take over and continue with the Parent Child Center model that was developed as part of the Khatawat project.

Save the Children works closely with the Jordanian government and partners to design projects that meet national priorities. Close coordination in the early stages guarantees that local partners develop the skills needed to carry on the work after Save the Children’s role in the project and project funding has ended. In addition, Save the Children works closely with the government to take proven models to national scale.

Mothers show Queen Rania some of the learning materials they learned how to make.

Mothers show Queen Rania some of the fun and colorful learning materials they learned how to make from recycled items in their home. The women and their children, ages 3 to 5, participate in a Save the Children-supported early childhood development program called “Khatawat” or “Steps” at a Parent Child Center in Amman, Jordan. The program provides early learning opportunities for Iraqi refugee children and Jordanian children in a safe environment.

Background on Save the Children’s Work in Jordan

Save the Children has been working in the Middle East since 1953 and in Jordan since 1985 and has a long history of initiating and sustaining effective development programs that benefit children and youth.

The global humanitarian agency works in partnership with governments and communities around the globe to provide quality learning experiences for more than 9 million children in 33 countries.

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