‘Seedlings’ – Early CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
– nurturing pre-school children
The early years in a child’s life are critical for development as they are a period of rapid physical, mental, emotional, social and moral growth. This is considered by experts to be the most crucial stage in life, a stage that has more influence on the future well-being and learning prospects of an individual than any other.
The Seedlings project is an initiative aiming to raise the standards of Early Childhood Development (ECD) provision for all children in Masiphumelele. Based on the findings from research and consultations with the community Seedlings takes a participatory approach to addressing ECD and a rights-based approach asserting that all children have a right to a clean, safe and stimulating learning environment.
Seedlings engages all key stakeholders, including, the City of Cape Town Social Development and Early Childhood Development (SDECD), the Department of Social Development (DSD) learning, learning providers, community NGOs, pre-school Principals, and the wider community. The partners work towards a common, holistic goal of: improving the standard of all facilities; provision of staff training; improving health/nutrition; and getting facilities registered with the DSD to receive financial subsidies.
Our Seedlings project is working to help provide decent quality pre-school education for the 4500 township children aged 1 to 6. With the help of our volunteers and fundraisers we have made great progress, but more remains to be done.
A bit of history...
Even now the standard of the 20+ crèches (daycare facilities) in Masiphumelele varies dramatically. They can be seen as being in three main categories:
• Registered crèches meet all the standards and norms for registration and are fully registered with the DSD (Department of Social Development) and in receipt of subsidies;
• Unregistered crèches meet most of the standards and norms for registration, in particular building standards, but for various reasons are not registered with the Department of Social Development (DSD);
• Informal crèches may meet some of the standards and norms but would require significant investment in order to get registered, in particularly significant improvements to facilities in order to meet the building standards. For example many are run from shacks which could never meet the fire regulations.
Our aim is to raise the standards of care and learning outcomes for children aged 0-6 years.
Our progress to date:
DSD registration complete for Home of Love and Siyakhanya pre-schools
Department of Social Department (DSD) registration has been achieved for Home of Love and Siyakhanya pre-schools for 55 learners
Like many pre-schools in Masiphumelele, both Siyakhanya and the Home of Love began as informal crèches run by well-meaning members of the community. Over time Masicorp has provided assistance by providing kitchen facilities and improving the building facilities on site. Providing safer, more hygienic structures to create loving and nurturing environments for the children and their adult support network is important, but is not the only step in becoming compliant with the DSD. more
Masi Educare pre-school renovated and now accommodates 150 learners.
The ‘Home of Love’ (Ekhaya Lothando) pre-School got the final finishing touches to building work when 18 of the FACE team descended on Masiphumelele for a week in February 2014.
It was the climax of more than a year of fundraising by the group of friends that raised more than £48,600 covering the cost of construction of the new classroom building, improvements to the existing building, a new toilet block, covered and open play areas, a laptop computer, class furniture, educational materials and teacher training. The newly renovated Masi Educare pre-school now accommodates 150 learners. more
Two new free Stay and Play groups for 50+ toddlers
Two Stay and Play groups have been established which provide free access for 50+ toddlers to weekly stimulation and early years’ education. This programme provides early childhood learning opportunities for children who do not have a place in a pre-school.
From observation and studies in the crèches in Masiphumelele it has become apparent that most of the children are not exposed to toys and structured learning at home and that many of the parents have no experience of this themselves. It is hoped that this group will not only encourage mothers to play with and teach their children at home but also help them to see how important the early years of a child’s life are as regards learning. more
Partnerships provide key support for Masiphumelele daycare facilities
Partnerships were agreed with NGO’s which provide feeding programmes and ECD equipment, as well as teacher training of staff in Masiphumelele unregistered pre schools.
The key to making Masiphumelele’s crèches sustainable is to get them registered with the Department of Social Development (DSD) so that a government subsidy can be received for each child. Registration is not just a matter of improved infrastructure. The DSD require the staff at each crèche to be fully qualified before they will consider registration. This is fully understandable but is a problem in Masiphumelele where many crèches are run by well-meaning but unqualified mothers from the community.
To address this Masicorp has recently started a new initiative to train the teachers at selected crèches. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the Unlimited Child NGO with Nadia Lubowski from The Anton Lubowski Educational Trust doing the teacher training. We are also collaborating with the Montessori Foundation and the Center for Creative Education on staff training.more