Ahead of Mandela Day, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet (MySchool) and Breadline Africa have partnered to shine the spotlight on challenges ECD centres across South Africa face.
“We need to focus on early childhood development now as it is crucial to the success of our country and youth. We have to ensure that we do our children justice in providing them with early learning opportunities in their formative years which sets the stage for their success at school as well as later in life,” says Pieter Twine, general manager at MySchool.
The ECD sector has been one the sectors most impacted by Covid-19 with many nursery schools and crèches having to close their doors due to the severe effects of the lockdowns. This situation was compounded by the Department of Social Development’s delay in paying out money from the R496m allocated to the sector as part of an employment stimulus relief fund to help it recover.
The pandemic also temporarily halted Breadline Africa’s infrastructure project as its team couldn’t access community projects during lockdown. However, Breadline Africa’s goal to erect 1,000 school infrastructure units by 2023 remains on track.
“Upgrading facilities is an important aspect to ensuring ECD centres meet requirements for registration with the Department of Basic Education. Once registered, centres are able to access government funding, which contributes to their sustainability,” comments Diane Laugksch, strategic partnerships manager at Breadline Africa.
“On average, we have the capacity to place 150 structures per year. Since 1996, Breadline Africa has placed more than 850 structures at community-run projects in resource-poor communities across South Africa. These are predominantly container and prefabricated structures used as classroom, kitchen and toilet facilities at ECD centres and as libraries in quintile 1-3 (no fee-paying) public primary schools,” Laugksch explains.
“Children do not learn when they are hungry and many ECD centres do not have adequate kitchen facilities available to prepare meals. Children also do not learn optimally in dark, damp, unsafe, cold, unventilated, draughty, leaking spaces where learning materials and resources are in short supply,” adds Laugksch.
She noted that this year they hope to secure funding to place 193 structures at community projects. At some sites the organisation also hopes to test a range of environmentally sustainable infrastructure solutions.
“As we celebrate our 25-year anniversary this year, we are proud to continue our support to Breadline Africa. As one of our longstanding beneficiaries, they share our commitment in ensuring that our children have access to quality education which they rightfully deserve,” concludes Twine.