First Read – developing children’s skills

The Prudence Foundation has funded and supported the First Read programme since 2013, partnering with Save the Children to focus on investing in early childhood care and development in Cambodia and the Philippines.

First Read is a unique programme that helps parents to develop their children’s numeracy and literacy skills by providing books in the local language or dialect, and encouraging them to read, sing and count together. It also helps parents understand the importance of healthy and nutritious food for children’s development.

Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programmes are recognised in helping improve school performance as well as reduce dropout and repetition rates, which ultimately reduce costs and improve efficiencies of primary education. They also have long-term impacts on a country’s education, health, moral and social values and children’s development as a whole. The importance of ECCD has been recognised as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (Education Target 4.2).

Over the last three years of the partnership, the programme has directly benefited more than 220,000 children and adults and indirectly over 483,000 community members. In 2017, the Prudence Foundation will continue its partnership with Save the Children to further invest and develop ECCD in the two countries. It also aims to conduct long-term research and use evidence of First Read’s impact to advocate for replication and greater scale at the national level.

After visiting Prey Veng province of Cambodia to see first-hand the impact of the programme on the local community, His Excellency Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Cambodia’s Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, said: “The government is delighted to be supporting a grassroots initiative such as First Read to make sure the country’s children have the best start when it comes to education. The government is also grateful for the ongoing support of Save the Children as well as the significant contribution of the Prudence Foundation and Prudential Cambodia.”

220,000 children and adults have benefited over three years