IFOD in Egypt: Helping Early Childhood Education
The Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) involvement in the Early Childhood Education Enhancement Project (ECEEP) is a key part of CIDA's Egypt Program Basic Education Strategy. The Canadian Assistance Team (ECEEP-CAT) supports education reform in Egypt and is part of an overarching project that combines the efforts of CIDA, the World Bank, the World Food Program and the Egyptian Ministry of Education in order to provide access to quality early childhood education. The goal is to improve school readiness of four and five-year old children from disadvantaged communities, with a strong focus on girls.
From October 5 to 7, 2009 two seasoned Intercultural Facilitation and Organizational Development (IFOD) facilitators travelled to Ein Soukhna (Arabic for "hot springs"), Egypt. The Red Sea locale, 60 km south of Suez, provided an enabling environment for the 23-member team to re-establish a shared understanding of the desired results of the ECEEP-CAT project and renew their commitment to achieving these results.
The success of international projects and programs depends on the effectiveness of the collaborations that comprise them. A collaboration is effective only if the partners have a shared vision and commitment. During this three-day workshop, participants explored strengthened approaches to working as a diverse team in order to achieve those results.
Led by the Centre's iFOD facilitators, team members engaged in a series of activities related to effective communication, working in collaboration and reflection on the achievements in the project to date. In particular, many participants commented that the exploration of the cultural significance tied to the concepts of responsibility, ownership and leadership was crucial for a greater understanding of the diverse points of view within the team. In addition, a learning lab on tendencies related to the cultural dimensions of communication further helped increase the shared understanding of colleagues and partners.
The final day of the workshop was devoted to the visioning of the future of the project and developing innovative strategies for achieving these results. All workshop participants left with a unified team action plan as well as a personal learning plan to further their own professional development.
As one Egyptian participant noted, "I will be able to capitalize on the information I gained from this retreat, especially as I work closely with government counterparts. I now know how to facilitate a process to build an effective team at the kindergarten system level."