Poor literacy amongst parents in low-income communities forces them to take up menial jobs with long working hours. This eats into the window of time parents spend with their children, elevating the stress consuming their lives. An unsupportive environment, and an inability to afford proxies to care for children while at work results in the development needs of the children not being met. The dismal learning and health outcomes depicted below are merely a reflection of this neglect.
Children from low-income families families are disadvantaged before they enter school. Poor school performance and high dropout rates follow suit.
Children at the greatest risk of poorest outcomes in learning, health and behaviour are those who experience a cumulative burden of several factors such as abuse, neglect, violence, mental illness, poverty and instability. An accumulation of these negative conditions erodes their developmental ability, resilience, reducing them to poor outcomes early on. A child cannot be expected to overcome this massive burden by themselves.
Traditionally, parents can help ward off most the problems that these children face during their early years. But when parents are themselves products of intergenerational poverty, abusive upbringing, poor education levels, or all, even they cannot be expected to placate this situation for their children. This video of Lata Didi, a Meraki beneficiary, provides a glimpse into the life of one such family.
Lata feels debilitated because:
- She feels incapacitated to help her children
- She is engulfed in an unsupportive environment
Without external intervention, Lata will not be able to break this vicious cycle. One that she understands best, being a product of the cycle herself.
To break the cycle, we must actively build the capacity and skills of parents to reduce neglect and enable them to support their children. Skilled parents can radically alter outcomes. They act as agents of change that counterbalance the difficulties that may exist in the child’s life with positive experiences.
Positive early childhood experiences such as these fuelled by parents fulfil the basic development needs of children, prepare them to successfully transition, adjust, and perform schools, and ultimately improve their learning outcomes.
But this does not happen automatically. Meraki’s comprehensive intervention helps develop these fundamental parent skills to help alter the trajectory of their children’s lives.