The pre-school of the future model

Evidence shows that appropriate investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) can positively impact on national health, education and socio economic outcomes, thus significantly benefiting society as a whole. On average, each additional year of education boosts a person's income by 10 per cent and increases a country's GDP by 18% and this has proven that if every child gets an opportunity to go to school, around 170 million fewer people would live in poverty.

The pre-school of the future modelOne of HPPSA POF center

It has been proven that lack of opportunities and interventions during early childhood can significantly disadvantage young children and diminish their potential for success. It is mostly children from socio-economically deprived areas that are losing out on this important foundation of their education and development. Within this context, the importance of sending kids to pre-school in South African policy has been recognised through the inclusion of ECD planning in documents relating to the National Departments of Health, Education and Social Development for the last three years. The South African Government has then since prioritised early childhood development even in its National Development Plan 2030 under the theme "Our Future-make it work"-NDP

Yet, despite this significant public interest and support for ECD and the delivery of services for young children, the situation remains critical in the country, as 70% of children still do not attend pre-school or participate in other ECD activities. The situation is especially critical in rural areas and hard-to-reach communities such as the targeted District of ILembe in the Kwazulu-Natal Province, where 67% of children are still living in poverty and about 68% of preschool-aged children do not have access to any form of ECD intervention.

Humana People to People South Africa has then embarked on a wide-scale campaign movement that is mobilizing poor communities into actions designed to improve preschools and Early Childhood Development education in their areas. The aim is to work with parents, government, other NGOs and communities as a whole to develop a comprehensive system that allows children to access pre-school education. The idea of the Preschools of the Future (POF) Movement is to mobilise poor communities around, providing holistic child centred early childhood development (ECD).

The overall goal of the project is to provide quality early childhood development and basic education for all, in South Africa. Based on a solid and tested community–based approach, the action's contribution will help improve provision of quality community-based ECD services for 1,050 vulnerable children from disadvantaged communities in 2 KZN municipalities, in ILembe District, and will also strengthen community support and commitment in the district.

Our POF centres are started by teachers that are qualified, trained by HPPSA through its POF Teacher Training Program. The accredited training is delivered by the KwaZulu-Natal Experimental College (KNEC), a registered Further Education and Training (FET) College. The Project has been implemented in KwaZulu Natal since 1998 and has evolved over the years in line with policy and ECD needs in the country and communities. The program is a long-term project because HPPSA wants to ensure that many poor children access holistic ECD.

To make sure that the project achieves its objectives, HPPSA will establish 2 new, Government-certified community-run preschools for 50 vulnerable children aged 3-4 in the two targeted rural municipalities. The project has already identified school that will be rehabilitated and furnished, supported with pedagogical materials and school supplies, and provided with water and hygiene facilities so that the children's learning environment is optimized. Also, with the support from KNEC, 3 local community members (women) are currently going under innovative initial ECD teaching training, so that they can be teachers at these preschools. Under the supervision of HPPSA, the two preschools in ILembe and newly-trained teachers will train 40 local organizations that provide ECD services and will work with 1,000 young children in the same area. These local organizations include other existing preschools, crèches, ECD centres and play groups. They will be supported to meet national quality standards and to register with the Department of Social Development (DSD). To ensure the sustainability of the project, community capacity, awareness of and support for ECD will be improved, parents and other community members will receive weekly trainings on ECD and related topics and will also be involved in monthly community awareness actions. Parents' committees will also be created and will manage the two project-established preschools.

The Government of South Africa has increasingly recognised the significance of investment in ECD services to address structural inequality and advance the rights and needs of all children, and recognises ECD as a fundamental and universal human right. This project will directly contribute to the Government's objectives in ECD: holistic and quality programmes; NGO-led programmes; research and innovations; ensure provision in partnership; and develop training packages. The POF model is making a huge difference and progress in the area of implementation and this is evident because other pre-schools in the area and surroundings are coming to our teachers to learn more about the model of the POF teachings.

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