From the Executive Director

Early learning is more than fun and games
While progress has been made, many governments still do not prioritise early childhood in their health, education or poverty reduction plans. At Mercy Works, our Early Childhood projects consistently work towards meeting current and future global development goals.

In 1990 Robert Fulghum wrote a poem called All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It is a simple, yet profound reflection on what constitutes the important things in life that allow a person to thrive, for societies to work together and for governments to function well. Its basic lesson is that if we attend to the small things in life then we learn skills that enable the big things to fall into place. Skills such as share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, clean up your own mess, take a nap every afternoon, say sorry when you hurt someone are all things we learn when we are in Kindergarten.

Fulghum concludes his poem with these words – take any of these items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with blankies and had a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
No wonder parents are keen to enrol their children in pre-school where they can learn these basic behaviours. This edition of The Bilum has stories about the pre-schools Mercy Works is assisting. Whether the pre-school is in Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste or Australia, the story is the same. Socialisation experiences in group settings accompanied by structured play assist the children to learn the basics in life which enable them to be ready for school. Then they are more ready to learn the more complex tasks because they have had a head start in a friendly and supportive way. Aren’t they lucky?

Parents who have pre-school children know the expense incurred in providing this start for their children. The parents of the children featured in this edition are amongst the most marginalized in society and have little or no money for such an activity. They could not even think that such a start is possible. Hence, it is a privilege that their children can have access o such a wonderful start in life.

As you read the stories you will pick up an extreme sense of gratitude for the assistance given to them. It is always a great pleasure to visit these pre-schools. To see the children happy and engaged in the activities without realising how much they are learning is most satisfying to the teachers. I always take the opportunity to encourage the teachers to keep up the good work.

Thank you for your support of this most valuable activity of Mercy Works.

Ailsa Mackinnon RSM AM
Executive Director




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