The fundamental elements for holistic child development is a happy family, proper basic education and moral standards of well-being.
Early childhood development refers to the physical, psychological, cognitive and social development that a child experiences between birth and school-going age. The events that occur during the early years of childhood have a lasting impact, and will affect a child’s growth and development, throughout his or her life thus determining whether a child will reach his or her full potential and the adult they will become.
Growth of mental and physical abilities progress at an astounding rate and a very high proportion of learning takes place from birth to age six. It is a time when children particularly need high quality personal care and learning experiences.
It is a proven fact that in the first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are formed every second. These are formed through the interaction of genes, environment and experiences, especially interaction with adults. These are the connections that build the architecture of the brain, the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depends.
Much of South Africa’s education challenges, marked in part by poor literacy and numeracy aptitude, can be attributed to limited-quality foundation-phase education resulting from refusal and evasion of social responsibility that stems from historical neglect on the part of both previous and current Policies of the Government. This has had severe impact on the emerging youth, and especially those from less fortunate and poorer communities, placing them at an extremely and adverse disadvantage. It necessarily follows that the root cause for weak performance at grade 12 and earlier grade levels is attributable to this historical neglect in foundation stage education for the children of the country.
To build a strong foundation in early childhood the fundamental elements for parents and childcare workers to focus on is to provide appropriate care and affection and create sufficient opportunities for learning. Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.
In most of marginalized communities you will find these fundamental elements sorely lacking. Many children are left in the care of family members as parents are either not married or working in the cities to make ends meet. Coupled with this, day care centers in these marginalized areas do not have suitably qualified care workers or the necessary teaching aids to contribute much to development of children in the foundation stage of their lives.
Adversity impairs development in the first three years of life. The more adversity a child faces the greater the odds of a developmental delay. Risk factors such as poverty, parent and caregiver ability, child maltreatment, single parent, and low maternal education have a cumulative impact in their cognitive, language, or emotional development. Learning to cope with adversity is as well an important part of healthy child development.
Many parents are deterred as well from enrolling their children at ECD facilities because of prohibitive costs. The sector is almost entirely self-funded by school fees, averaging at between R 90 to R 200 per child, and donations that are inadequate to build and operate “fit for purpose” facilities.
“Fit for Purpose” facilities for children to benefit by in appropriate basic foundation phase education requires the following essentials.
- Proper infrastructure and facilities – Classrooms with equipment, outdoor equipment for play, educational aids, toys, teaching resources, sanitary toilets areas and the availability of Water.
- Qualified Care Workers – Teachers who understand their role and the importance of that role in the teaching and well-being of children.
To achieve this, we need immense funding and mediation to make it happen. We require the assistance of society on a global platform to participate as to meet the challenge as a single organization is virtually impossible. With global support we can transform our vision into reality, provide the necessary assistance, and be the conduit for improving standards and quality of ECD facilities that are struggling in the marginalized communities.
What we have Achieved
For a number of years, by donations and support, with particular reference to the Chinese Community, we have been able to provide these struggling facilities with certain basic essential requirements that we are certain has contributed to the cause.