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As almost half of South African children under the age of four spend their day away from home at day care centres or educational facilities*, creating a healthy and stimulating environment at these institutions is crucial to their wellbeing and development. Developing and implementing comprehensive early childhood development (ECD) programmes is an important educational priority for South Africa as it takes the country a step closer to improving the overall literacy rate.
The Rotary Club of Claremont has been working tirelessly to address the country’s need for ECD programmes through its Injongo Educare Project which focuses on uplifting the community of Philippi in Cape Town by upgrading and providing support to Educare Centres in the area.
“The main aim of the project is to create a positive environment that ensures that children receive the best possible educational stimulation from an early age, giving them a real hope for excelling in the future,” says Rotary Club of Claremont President, Ian Robertson.
The Injongo project, believed to be the largest of its kind in the country, has worked with 47 Educare Centres in Philippi since 2012. With total project costs of over R12 million to date, it provides holistic interventions that include extensive teacher training, physical upgrades to existing facilities, and daily mentoring assistance for Educare Centres. This helps ensure that the centres meet the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) requirements for official ECD accreditation and registration.
“The children are not the only beneficiaries of this project. The teachers are also provided with the necessary skills and equipment required in order for these Educare Centres to be sustainable in the long term,” adds Robertson.
“Currently, there are more than 200 day care centres in Philippi that look after toddlers while their parents are at work, but not all of them offer the same developmental opportunities,” explains Injongo Project Manager, Pumeza Mahobe.
“Children attending the Educare Centres within our cluster are provided with the opportunity to grow and develop in a safe, learning-conducive environment. They develop a hunger for learning and absolutely love to take part in the exciting and valuable learning activities on offer.”
She says that whether it is reading stories, singing songs, playing games or making crafts, all of the activities stimulate positive development and adhere to the standards of the National Curriculum Framework for 0 – 5-year-olds and the Grade R CAPS Curriculum.
“In addition to the improvement and enrichment of the toddlers’ immediate circumstances, this community initiative puts our children on track towards a promising future through education,” adds Mahobe.
“The early childhood stage is an important period in terms of developing and stimulating young children’s curiosity, creativity and thought processing,” says Henry Septoe, Chair of the Rotary Claremont Injongo Committee.
“The activities and lessons learned by young children during the foundation education phase lay the groundwork for cognitive and socio-emotional development. The Educare Centres prepare them for school as well as for tertiary education, which ultimately has a direct impact on the literacy rate, the quality of life and overall welfare of South African citizens in the long run,” adds Septoe.
“Of course, all educational support needs to be complemented by other measures to help improve children’s nutrition, hygiene and health,” concludes Septoe.
“Education, specifically developing educated young people, is a passion for the Rotary Club of Claremont and its members, and the Injongo Educare Project goes some way to addressing this issue. We believe that by educating our future leaders, politicians, doctors, engineers and teachers, we are taking a valuable step towards building a prosperous future for South Africa,” concludes Robertson.
For more information on Rotary Club of Claremont’s Injongo Educare Project, please visit http://claremontrotary.co.za/.