Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities in South Africa have been shut down and this has disrupted the care and stimulating early learning programmes for the youngest members of the society.

The Executive Director of Ntataise, one of the oldest ECD NGOs in South Africa, Sarah Mcguigan, stated, ‘[M]entoring and development work, which started 40 years ago on farms in the Free State, [have] been put on hold in terms of women, men and children being physically present at training sessions, parent programmes or early learning centres and playgroups. We might be [on] lockdown, but Ntataise continues to be in regular contact with its trainers, ECD practitioners, parents and community leaders by means of social media’.

‘It is fortuitous that along with our 21 network members, Ntataise has over the past couple of years provided training for the different organisations on how to use various IT platforms – be it for management, administration, training, and sharing learning activities – for children in the three-to-six age group’, she added.

In the development of early learning activities, the Director of Ntataise, Puleng Motsoeneng, was instrumental. He noted, ‘This online work was an attempt to go to scale and reach a far larger number of practitioners, parents and pre-school children than we are able to through our normal programmes. In the initial stage, we produced 17 three- to five-minute video clips filmed in the Rammulotsi Township with practitioners and children involved in local Ntataise programmes’.

‘At the start of the lockdown, we added written descriptions of the activities in these clips and have made the package available on the Ntataise website (www.ntataise.org). These activities help not only to keep children busy and learning, but they are encouraging ECD practitioners and parents to share their experiences and coping mechanisms and we are not the only organisation sharing and developing materials’, he added.

Motsoeneng also noted that UNICEF, along with government departments and other NGOs, has brought the ECD field together in an unprecedented way for the sake of early learning.

He appreciated their funders, stating, ‘We could not do it without the partnership of the funders who support this vital work and the communities we work with. We believe the normal work of non-profit organisations in the children’s sector is as important now as it was before the lockdown, adapted where necessary in the face of the challenge that Covid-19 presents and needs everyone’s continued support during this time’.

Source: Benonicity Times

Photo source: Alan Levine

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