CAIRO – Under the auspices of the chancellor, Dr. Hassan El Kalla of Badr University Cairo (BUC), a partnership was forged on March 28, 2018, with the Council for Professional Recognition to bring, for the first time in Egypt, the opportunity for teachers of young children to obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA®) credential.
Planning to conduct the CDA pilot program in Egypt began in earnest in early 2018. Several meetings were held at Badr University Cairo (BUC) with the president, vice president and their administrative staff to solidify the plans. Discussions centered around determining and agreeing on the logistics with respect to dates of the course, building location, room assignment and the periodic availability of a computer lab for course participants.
The BUC Marketing Department designed an attractive brochure for distribution to advertise the CDA pilot program course in the summer of 2018. It was posted on the BUC website, as well as on several social media outlets for teachers in Egypt. It also was distributed via email to directors of the 23 Futures Schools, Mavericks, the Futures Educational Systems (FES) Executive Team, as well as the Misr El Kheir Foundation, Edupedia and other educational organizations and consultants in Egypt.
In April 2018, we were honored with a visit by our partners, Dr. Valora Washington, Council CEO, and Kevin Butler, the Council’s director of Strategic Partnerships. During their visit, Washington gave PowerPoint presentations on the background of the CDA credential as well as the Professional Development Specialists (PDS’s) at BUC and EDU Systems International (ESI). Washington and Butler also had the opportunity to tour several of the classrooms of Futures Schools in Sherouk, Maadi and Futures Tech.
Recruitment and enrollment of the CDA pilot program participants and PDS’s got underway at the time of the presentations and continued until May 31, 2018. There were 39 CDA applicants and 13 PDS applicants, in all. Interviews and an orientation were conducted, and English assessments were administered to the CDA applicants.
Of the 39 CDA applicants, 28 were determined to be qualified and committed to the CDA pilot program. Of the 13 PDS applicants, 12 qualified for the online training.
By successfully completing the certification exam to become PDS’s through the Council, the 12 students joined the ranks of PDS’s eligible to conduct the required Verification Visit in the classrooms of CDA candidates in Egypt.
The CDA pilot program at BUC began on Saturday, June 24, and ended on July 26. Classes were held Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Participants were given a morning and afternoon break as well as one hour for lunch. BUC provided food on the first and last day of the course to welcome the participants and as a final congratulatory farewell.
During the first two weeks, there were a lot of questions and genuine concerns by the participants about their ability to go back to their classrooms and implement the skills and competencies they were gaining during the training. None of them had any background, education or training in early childhood education prior to being employed as teachers of young children.
All of them were college graduates; none of them had degrees in the ECE field. Subsequently, most, if not all, of the content of the classes was new to them. They were thrilled to be learning the material that was presented, but apprehensive about the acceptance of the newly acquired skills by the directors and supervisors in the schools. Classroom rearrangement, equipment, materials and having assistance in the classroom to lower adult/child ratios were the major areas of concern.
Throughout the five-week pilot program, participants were assessed on their understanding of the material through quizzes, written assignments, video summaries and a review of their workbooks. The final two weeks concluded with a critique of their competency statements, their philosophy of education and an online practice CDA exam.
The exam consisted of 65 multiple choice questions, very similar to those found on the actual CDA exam. Of the 28 participants who successfully completed the five-week course, 26 achieved a passing score of 70 percent or more on the practice exam. The participants created a WhatsApp group to continue to support one another once they returned to their respective schools.
The CDA pilot program at BUC was quite a learning/growing experience. BUC will continue to expand the CDA course and credentialing process in Egypt, paving the path for more early childhood educators to gain the professional skills and competencies required to work with young children.
Additionally, we are confident the CDA training will support educators in the implementation of the new early childhood curriculum presented by the Ministry of Education in Egypt this academic year and significantly improve learning outcomes for the children they serve.