The education capacity building programme, which launched almost a year ago to address the lack of access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) services in the Saldanha Bay Local Municipality has been so successful, it is expanding its reach into new communities. The Playgroup Site Learning Programme helps to ensure that children receive quality learning and caring programmes, resulting in them being better prepared to enter Grade 1.

“The implementation of community playgroups in the Hopefield and Koperfontein communities have been hugely successful, in fact, the programme is so successful that four new groups will be established in the Middelpos and Witteklip communities as part of Umoya Energy’s Early Childhood Development Programme,” said Celiwe Mabaso, Community Operations Manager for Umoya Energy Wind Farm.

Playgroup leaders are receiving on-going support and mentoring, in addition to further training, all focused on helping young children to grow in confidence and become school-ready. A programme, aptly named Bridging the Gap, addresses the breach between the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) and the CAPS system (National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement), two frameworks that are designed as a guide to develop curriculum programmes for children in the early years.

The programme framework is designed to help adults develop effective practices through planning, integrating and offering activities to meet the needs of each child so that they can develop knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours for life, learning, schooling and work.

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.

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

The Playgroups 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 further benefits children who need increased exposure 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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