Early Childhood Education in South Africa

by Ikamva Labantu
Dec 12, 2012

A success story from Ikamva Labantu's Kwakhanya Early Childhood Learning Centre

Happy faces
Happy faces

There are very limited opportunities for young South African children from disadvantaged township communities to have access to early childhood education. Pervasive poverty and unemployment have made the opening of a pre-school an attractive opportunity for income generation for women in these communities.  However, the vast majority of these women has no experience or training in the field and is unable to help the children develop intellectually and emotionally.  Further, their “schools” are under-resourced and do not comply with basic standards of health and safety.

Ikamva Labantu has responded to the situation over 40 years by providing training and resources for pre-school owners so that they are able to reach a stage where the government will register and subsidise them. We have now developed our training programme even further with the opening of our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Khayelitsha township dedicated to education and support of pre-school practitioners. The centre is named Kwakhanya which means “moving from darkness into light.  It provides the setting for training ECD practitioners to understand child development and learning and the opportunity to apply this theoretical knowledge in a real “live” pre-school which also operates in the centre.

Lindiwe from the Little Bird Educare Centre attends the programme at Kwakhanya. Her school was visited by Ikamva Labantu staff members before the training and the sad “before” picture emerged.  There are six practitioners at the school and 97 children. After the course, and with encouragement and further site visits, significant changes had taken place.

“Before”: Some of the major defects

The school was lacking in resources, especially for the number of children. There was no separation between the play areas for the different age groups. Unhappily, there were no active play or creative areas for children to engage in learning through play, and children’s handiwork was not displayed. Storage for items was lacking and there was a general sense of disarray.

Health issues and hygiene were also a problem with water for handwashing being re-used, an unsterilised sandpit, no first aid box and no sickbay or isolation area. From the safety point of view, there were no safety policies available or displayed, no evacuation procedure in place and only one fire extinguisher with no one trained to use it.

“After”: Significant progress has been made since the commencement of the ECD experiential training in April this year.  

There is now a sense of order at Little Bird pre-school. The children have been separated according to the different age groups and the active play areas have been clearly signed.

Children’s work is being displayed and resources have been appropriately stored. The wall areas are now well used. A daily programme on the activities and routines as well as a daily menu are clearly visible. Policies have been pasted up.

From the hygiene point of view, things have improved considerably. Clean hand washing water is available for children to wash their hands during routine times. The person changing the nappies is observing the universal precautions and wearing gloves and the nappy change area is clearly signposted and moved away from food preparation areas.

Most important of all, Lindiwe is happy and enjoying her job and so do the other staff members at Little Bird. The children in their care now have better facilities available to them and are in a pre-school where their growth, both intellectual and emotional, their stimulation and their hygiene and safety are taken care of.

Your support of this project will assist another woman to improve her skills as a pre-school practitioner so that she is able to provide an environment for children conducive to their growth and learning. The value to our communities and to the future is immeasurable.

A daily programme displayed on the wall
A daily programme displayed on the wall
A designated play area
A designated play area
Improved tidiness and hygiene
Improved tidiness and hygiene



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Organization Information

Ikamva Labantu

Location: Cape Town, Western Cape - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​ikamva.org
Ikamva Labantu
Project Leader:
Jovana Risovic
Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa

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