Four additional ISSA Member organizations receive training on the Primokiz approach
Four additional ISSA Member organizations receive Primokiz training
Between February 20 – 24, 2023, ISSA Secretariat staff met with ISSA Members and invited guests in Bucharest, Romania, for ISSA’s first in-person event of 2023. Over the course of the week, meetings were held covering three thematic areas — one of which was the Primokiz approach. This included an introductory workshop open to ISSA Members and partners, and later a more in-depth “know how transfer workshop” for member organizations in four countries: Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. During this training, ISSA trainers and experts from countries already implementing the approach explained how the Primokiz approach — facilitated through intersectoral collaboration — aims to support local municipalities in developing inclusive, integrated and responsive early childhood systems to meet the needs of young children and families.
Primokiz introductory workshop
The Primokiz introductory workshop kicked off on February 20, where ISSA program staff, and ISSA Members from the Centrul Step by Step (CEPD) in Romania and the Step by Step Centre for Quality in Education in Slovenia — who have already been implementing the approach (for four years in Romania and two years in Slovenia) provided a training on using this methodology to provide technical support to municipalities in assessing the needs of families, enhancing cooperation among sectors, developing and implementing early childhood strategies. Present at this training were representatives of ISSA Member organizations Partners Hungary (Hungary), Comenius Foundation for Child Development (Poland), Wide Open School (Slovakia), Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation (Ukraine), Artevelde University of Applied Sciences (Belgium) as well as representatives of UNICEF Country offices, Bernard Van Leer Foundation and Early Childhood Regional Networks Fund.
Primokiz is an evidence-based program developed by the Jacobs Foundation to help municipalities to create cross-sectoral infrastructure for increasing access to quality early childhood services for young children and families. During the introductory session, the facilitators provided an overview of the Primokiz model, where they explained the importance of comprehensive, cross-sectoral strategies for the early years, gave an overview of the phases of the Primokiz approach, and explained the key elements (political buy-in, cross-sectoral coordination, local ownership, local capacity, needs/data informed strategies/plans, etcetera.)
Throughout the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to learn from the ISSA Members who have already been implementing this approach in Romania and Slovenia in addition to reflecting and asking questions about how the model can be applied in their own contexts.
Relevance of the Primokiz model
A key element of the Primokiz approach is that the methodology can be redeployed whenever necessary. According to Carmen Lica, Executive Director of Centrul Step by Step Center in Romania, this reproducibility was hugely valuable in helping the CEPD quickly and flexibly respond to the needs of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Carmen says that the CEPD realized that “early childhood was not on the agenda” in the Ukraine response. The knowledge that they had gained from implementing the Primokiz process helped them to set up non-formal services for young Ukrainian children and families whose needs were largely absent from the wider humanitarian response.
“We knew from our experience in working with the local authorities that these services were needed at the community level before the war started. When children from Ukraine arrived, it was even more important for them to be available. The expertise that we had in Primokiz allowed us to use a shortened version of the needs analysis — we went through the process and were able to get the important puzzle pieces together easier.” – Carmen Lica
Know-how transfer training
The next stage of the Primokiz workshop was the know-how transfer training which took place from Wednesday 22 to Friday 24 February, involving ISSA Members from Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland. During this in-depth training, the new country teams were equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to advocate for the prioritization of early childhood development at the municipal level.
During the training, ISSA trainers, and experts from ISSA Member organizations in Romania and Slovenia, explained the fundamentals of the Primokiz method, including:
- How to use the Primokiz handbook and package of resources that accompany the method
- Concrete phases involved in implementing the approach, including the situation analysis
- Roles and responsibilities of facilitators and coordinators, including how to recruit
- Outcomes and benefits of the approach
- Planning and implementation at country level
- Documenting, financing, and scaling up
Takeaways from the Primokiz trainings
Overall, the ISSA Members in attendance deemed the workshop to be an inspiring and successful event. Members from countries that are new to the Primokiz approach valued hearing about first-hand experiences of implementation from ISSA members in Romania and Slovenia who already have experience with the approach.
The team from Partners Hungary also highlighted how valuable it was to learn about the approach with other ISSA Members who are also new to the Primokiz process as this will allow them to build meaningful cross-country relationships with both new and experienced partners to support each other through the implementation process.
Witnessing the ISSA support network in action also made an impact on Eldin Bajric, ECD Fund Coordinator at Porticus. He noted that,
"A highlight of this meeting was seeing the connection between ISSA and their member organizations. It was especially valuable to see how ISSA gives them a sense of ownership so that they can run the Primokiz project alone, but with the knowledge that the ISSA team is there to support them and answer any questions they may have. Support from the management team is crucial for them."
In addition, many of the new teams observed that the Primokiz approach would be a useful way to take stock of and streamline the work that they are already doing. This sentiment was summed up well by the colleagues from Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation who reflected that using the Primokiz methodology “will help people who are already doing this work to do it more effectively and in such a way that they can make sure that the services are more integrated and responsive to the needs of the community.”