Inspiring a fatherhood revolution
A small boy sits cross-legged on the dusty earth. His head rests against his father’s knee, and in his hands he holds a rudga, a traditional African violin made of calabash, goat skin, sticks and nylon thread. His father, 44-year-old Desiré, leans over him, helping his son draw the horse tail bow across the strings. It makes a sweet and flute-like sound.
This simple scene represents an extraordinary change happening in 14 rural communities in Burkina Faso, where for centuries men have had little involvement in the care and education of children. With the support of donors and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, CCFC is helping the Government of Burkina Faso to integrate early childhood development in nationwide teacher training programs, and inspiring a fatherhood revolution.
The innovative program, called Learning Through Play, is based on the work of the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in Toronto. It instills parent-child play as a way to promote learning and attachment; uses a simple, low-literacy, picture format to share information on the healthy growth and development of children from birth to age six; and provides hands-on training.
The change in views to fatherhood – traditionally considered by the communities as a role exclusive to women – is extraordinary.
In the first year of the program, only 21 of the 657 participants were men. Since creating all-men parent groups, more than 250 men participate, including Desiré. The violin he lovingly uses to teach his son Blaise, was once so dear to him he never let his son touch it.
Since 2011, our donors have helped fund 91 Learning Through Play parent groups – helping 958 parents give 4,468 children the best start possible in life. And, that’s only the beginning. CCFC is working with local partners and the Government of Burkina Faso to expand the program to more communities.
“Everybody knows that a man has better things to do than play with children. I myself used to believe that. But, now I realize that is absolutely wrong. I have learned that as men, we also have a very strong role to play in the development of our children.” — Desiré, 44, with his three-year-old son, Blaise