Four young children reading at desks

Early Learning and Development

In 2022, in addition to their 12 schools educating nearly 19,000 secondary age children, the Sisters of Mary will have cared for 532 pre-primary children, aged 3-5 in day-care and kindergartens in Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil and Tanzania.

Foundational skills – the basics of literacy and numeracy – underpin the future of hundreds of millions of children around the world. Lack of early learning within the youngest in the poorest communities means these skills are now at grave risk and without them, the growing children will have lower levels of overall ability, which in turn will reduce their future productivity and earnings potential as they enter the workforce.




Three toddlers playing with red buckets and blue spades
Day care children Sao Paulo

The right to an education

The expanding work of the Sisters within pre-primary education emphasises the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 (Quality Education) and prioritises the absolute right and the vital need of the poorest and most vulnerable youngsters for access to quality early childhood education. With early stimulation and pre-primary education they can meet development milestones and be ready for primary and secondary education and a productive life.

Equally important for these most vulnerable children in poor communities, is the urgent daily need for care and supervision so that they can receive proper nutrition, healthcare and support whilst their parents or family members go out to work.

The facilities provided by the Sisters are a vital lifeline for the poorest families in these countries, like Leandro. His wife died this summer and, with no family to support him, he now lives alone with his tiny 4 year old son, Miguel. Caring for Miguel means he cannot go out to work and earn money to support them both and so when the Sisters met him in October and offered Miguel a place at their day-care centre in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Leandro cried tears of joy and gratitude.

Nuns sitting with nursery children at a table
Youngsters at the Kiluvya Nursery, Tanzania, Sept 2022

Early education as a foundation for life

The day-care and kindergarten centres run by the Sisters of Mary are funded by the generous support of our donors. The children receive two nutritious meals a day and milk, and they have supervised play and early learning activities to give them a good start in life.

The children are thriving. Growing strong, confident, learning how to socialise and to make friends and play together. They are also gaining vital early lessons in reading and writing, how to listen, engage and respond to the world around them. These academic and social skills are foundational for primary and secondary education and for their social development.

With the care of the Sisters and teachers, at these centres the youngest and the most vulnerable in our society have a better grounding for their primary and secondary education and the best chance of a brighter, more productive future.

Read about how an early education is helping Miguel