Stacy Meyer, adjunct professor of education at California Baptist University, trained village preschool teachers in Malawi from Aug. 7-21, working with a faith-based organization called Sub—Saharan African Family Enrichment (SAFE).
SAFE does many things, but the area Meyer works with is called Building Understanding in Literacy Development (BUILD), which is a pilot program for preschools.
Meyer explained that the focus of BUILD is preparing the children for primary school and meeting their nutritional and educational needs.
“More than 50 percent of the children have stunted brain growth because they don’t have proper nutrition,” Meyer said. “By starting preschool programs, they can be sure that children are getting fed at least one solid meal a day. They’re not just there to meet the need of feeding them. Our attempt also is to educate them.”
Teaching the children about God is also an important part of the program.
“How do you explain to them that they were made in the image of God and they’re important, (when) that’s not a cultural thing for them?” Meyer said. “If they don’t have that as a foundation — understanding who they are in Christ — then it doesn’t matter what type of educational strategies we take for them because everything is built on that foundation.”
Kayla Malins, first-year graduate student, was a student of Meyer’s who helped put some of the curriculum together.
“I work at a preschool which is a Christian preschool, so (Meyer) thought to reach out to me to get our biblical curriculum, and (learn) how to incorporate that into a preschool,” Malins said.
Mandy Themm, adjunct professor of education, said she admires Meyer, with whom she has worked for two years.
“Stacy is one of the hardest-working, most diligent professors I’ve worked alongside,” Themm said. “She has very good character and integrity.”
This year, Meyer’s daughter is also a senior at CBU. Meyer said she knew right away that CBU was special, and she hopes to make a program for CBU students involved in early childhood development and education to get involved with BUILD and the work they are doing in Malawi.
For more information on SAFE, visit gogograndmothers.com.