The Early Learning Content Box Project (CBP) was developed and implemented by Kaya Childcare (KCC), an early childhood and kindergarten based in Madina Accra, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the name, Unlocking Informal Innovation: Early Learning Content Box project.
The CBP engaged a design team made up of young women working as market porters in Ghana, locally known as kayayei (singular kayayoo), early childhood teachers, and community youth to explore the feasibility of piloting a flexible and accessible solution for childcare and learning for the kayayoo community in Madina.
The project sought to do this through a community-based model that developed the entrepreneurial capacities of youth and kayayei in the community. The CBP implemented ensured that the 2 to 4-year-old children of kayayei and other low-income households served do not miss out on proper and timely development because their guardian is caught up in the business cycle of urban livelihood.
One of the significant challenges facing vulnerable young women employed in the informal sector, such as 7head porters—referred to in Ghana as kayayei (singular: kayayoo)—and hawking mothers is access to childcare services while they are busy at work. It is not uncommon to see these mothers’ carrying loads with their babies strapped to their backs or young children roaming their mothers’ place of work without appropriate care, exposing them to harm. These marginalized children, therefore, miss out on deliberate development during their early childhood years, from birth to kindergarten at about age 6. They miss the opportunity to develop learning and other skills best developed in those years.
To address this gap, the Kaya Childcare Center (KCC), in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, initiated the “Unlocking Informal Innovation: The Early Learning Content Box Project” between May 2022 and December 2023. The project sought to engage the kayayei community to contribute solutions to their childcare needs in a manner that could potentially develop into small businesses given further support. It engaged kayayei and community youth to explore the feasibility of a flexible, accessible solution for childcare and learning. This was implemented through a community-based model that developed the entrepreneurial capacities of youth and kayayei.
Over 17 months, the project engaged kayayei and hawking mothers to design and create early learning content boxes filled with simple handmade manipulatives for children aged 1 to 6 for independent learning through play in a flexible, inclusive, and sustainable manner without using digital technology. A content box distribution and childcare (babysitting) service model were also designed and implemented. The project was piloted in five communities in Madina, Accra: Redco, Melcom, Kenkele, the Social Welfare Area, and the Madina Market. It ran two facilitated babysitting kiosks and distributed content boxes to children at their mothers’ workstations through mobile facilitators within a 1.5 km radius.