ADDRESSING EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT GAPS IN THE SALDANHA BAY LOCAL MUNICIPALITY

ADDRESSING EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT GAPS IN THE SALDANHA BAY LOCAL MUNICIPALITY

Parents in the Saldanha Bay Local Municipality communities of Hopefield, Koperfontein and Green Village are being trained and formal playgroups established to address the lack of access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) services in the region, which leaves a vast number of young children vulnerable. The Playgroup Site Learning Programme aims to build capacity amongst parents to help ensure that children will have increased opportunities to quality learning and caring programmes, resulting in them being better prepared to enter Grade 1.

A large percentage of South Africa’s young children aren’t able to access formal Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities and as a result are not exposed to quality early learning opportunities. This is the case both in urban settlements and in rural areas, resulting in 67% of children falling outside of any form of early childhood development.

The Umoya Energy funded programme includes a number of training elements to build capacity as well as funds to cover a stipend for parents who are selected as Playgroup leaders and provide a meal each day for up to one hundred children participating in these formalised playgroups.

“Following the philosophy that parents are a child’s first teacher, this programme aims to empower parents by exposing them to the National Curriculum Framework Guidelines, so that they can better understand the key areas of their children’s development,” explained Veronique Isaacs, Regional Community Operations Manager for Umoya Energy.

The Parent Training workshops focus on a number of topics impacting on the well-being of children and roles and responsibilities of parents.  In addition to this, parents are exposed to the National Curriculum Framework Guidelines which will equip them with an understanding of the Early Learning and Development Areas for children.

Once the Parent Training workshops are completed, parents will be identified for further training on the Playgroup Site Learning Programme, so that they can fulfil the role of Playgroup leaders.

“This Programme will allow for a hundred community children to be part of this Playgroup intervention, as well as to receive a nutritious daily meal,” added Isaacs.

The Playgroups will address the effects of the lack of access to ECD provision by providing a quality ECD service to those that would otherwise not be able to access these services.  The programme will benefit children who need increased opportunities to quality learning and caring programmes; skills for women and men who can become ECD practitioners serving the young and vulnerable in their respective local environments; Families and parents who will be exposed to the needs and necessity of early childhood development; and play group leaders will also be paid a stipend to facilitate the play group sessions.

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