Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres are the pillars of education and a good investment for unlocking a child’s potential.
This is according to the CEO of the National Development Agency (NDA) Thamo Mzombe.
“Understanding the investment on a child and unlocking the potential at a very early stage is important. As the NDA, we look at ECDs holistically in terms of development of a child from the mind to physical. This is an asset and if well nurtured at an early stage will yield great potential for our country," says Mzombe.
She adds that during the first 1 000 days of a child’s life their mind is capable of quickly absorbing important information.
Getting access to quality education at this stage is essential in terms of ECD which advocates that children who are exposed to ECD efforts must have access to quality food and an environment which allows potential growth.
“If we get the programmes of the ECDs right we would not suffer in entrepreneurial challenges, producing scientist because the child’s potential and resilience is built at this level," said Mzombe.
She adds that in order for children to flourish academically nutrition and a balanced diet are important.
One ECD centre, one food garden
The NDA promotes the idea of “One ECD centre, one food garden.” Food gardens provide fresh vegetables to school feeding schemes at community-based ECD facilities, home-based centres and rural communities.
The NDA also provides skills development and education in the benefits of good nutrition.
The NDA focuses mostly on ECDs in rural areas, informal settlements and farm areas where poverty levels are very high and parents have no means or access to structured ECD-based programmes.
Mzobe adds that her organisation focuses on empowering the management of an ECD, particularly in the areas of governance, financial management, fundraising, human resource management, report-writing and how to register with the provincial departments of social development.
“This assists centres to … comply with the norms and standards of the Department of Social Development," says Mzombe.
ECD centre infrastructure upgrades are also important element to ensure that learning happens in a safe environment.
Training for ECD Staff
Through the NDA ECD principals, supervisors, practitioners, cooks and governing body members are appropriately trained and skilled to benefit the centre’s programmes for young children.
Mzobe says ECD educators are also guided by a curriculum with standards to be achieved.
“Their curriculum covers most of grade R. We have our NPO-capacitated trainers that develop curriculum," concludes Mzombe.
Community members who would like to register their ECDs with the NDA can call 011 018 5500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org