For the children of Blackburn Village, north of Durban, Wednesday, 17 January marked the start of an exciting journey in education with the opening of the community’s Early Childhood Development ECD and aftercare centre for children up to the age of six years.
This welcome addition to the community falls under the iThuba Community Centre, established as a partnership structure with eThekwini Municipality, Tongaat Hulett through its Development operations and the Blackburn community. The Centre, run by a representative Steering Committee, comprise ECD and aftercare. Social programmes office for the Ward Committee and coordination of economic participation opportunities, skills and enterprise development and linkages.
Bongani Gumede, Tongaat Hulett Developments Executive, said it was an exciting first day for the little ones: “Community empowerment is an important facet of Tongaat Hulett and there is no better place to begin than at Early Childhood Development level. We, along with the municipality and the local community, want to give these children an opportunity to learn and grow, preparing them for a lifelong journey of education. By providing a solid foundation of learning, they are being given a real chance at future success.”
The ECD centre is based in an old home that was refurbished by three construction companies based in Blackburn Village. Many organisations have contributed to the establishment of the centre, securing donations for educational toys as well as equipment for teaching and childcare. Tongaat Hulett is also registering the centre with the Department of Social Development which will assist in further financial support. The ECD programme will initially be overseen by Durban Northbased NGO, the Domino Foundation, which will provide ongoing mentorship, assessments of the facilities and teaching, as well as supplying a qualified teacher while training and mentoring locals teachers to professionally run the school. The school was inspired by local resident, Nolokulu Njikazi, who has NOF level 4 qualification and formerly ran a creche from a shipping container in the area.
“The Domino Foundation is proud to be working with Tongaat Hulett in the establishing and opening of the iThuba Early Childhood Development Centre,” said She Ndimande, Programme Leader of ECD for The Domino Foundation.
“A number of communities in the greater uMhlanga area are characterised by high unemployment and there is a marked incidence of disadvantage and poverty. There are few creches and preprimary facilities serving the communities, and few are little more than childminding establishments. In conjunction with partners Angel Projects, JAM South Africa, The Unlimited Child and NELRU, this 12 month intervention was launched at the start of the 2018 academic year. The Domino Foundation’s vision is to improve the quality of learning and preparation for school readiness of vulnerable children through focused empowering of ECD owners and educators. With the Tongaat Hulett funding, it is envisioned that the lthuba ECD Centre will become a critical ECD model in the area.”
Being a holistic environment, all the children who attend the ECD open from 5.30am to 6pm weekdays will be fed a nutritious porridge supplied by JAM SA as well as a lunchtime soup supplied by the Grace Container Ministry, supplemented by the established vegetable garden onsite. The Centre will accommodate up to 68 children.