There were many reasons for celebration at the Community-iThuba Centre on Friday, 30 November as parents, family members and the extended Blackburn Village community joined to congratulate the first five Grade R learners who graduated from the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre. This ECD centre, established by eThekwini Municipality in conjunction with Tongaat Hulett and the Blackburn community, provides structured childcare and learning for the local children up to the age of six years.
“We are so pleased with the progress of our first ever Grade R learners – Anelisa Nontlanga, Bandile Nontlanga, Yonela Hlapholo, Philasande Jama and Luyanda Bilinge,” said Nelisiwe Nogoni, chairman of the Community-iThuba ECD Centre Committee. “We are really going to miss them as they move on to start Grade 1, but we are sure they are ready to achieve in their new environment.”
Nogoni said the community buy-in and ongoing support has seen the ECD go from strength to strength since it began this year.
“The fact that we are hosting the graduation ceremony for Grade R in the first year of our opening means so much to us,” she said. “Without cognitive capabilities being developed at this early age, children are not able to reach high school, let alone attain a tertiary education. This ECD centre provides an environment conducive to cognitive development through play.”
This is the first formalised ECD centre in Blackburn Village and is overseen by a non-profit organisation, The Domino Foundation. The children receive daily sponsored meals supplemented by the onsite vegetable garden.
The graduation programme, presided by MC, Yonwabisa Mabhunguza, included recitals by the graduates on ‘days of the week’, ‘months of the year’, ‘the alphabet’ and ‘my body parts’. The audience was delighted to hear the children’s aspirations, among them, careers as teachers, doctors and policemen. One of the parents, Bongeka Daluka, gave a motivational talk to the learners, after which caregiver, Sesethu Tonisi, handed out the certificates. The day concluded with a lunch for all the attendees.
“We would like to congratulate the dedicated staff at the ECD for their commitment to the children,” said Bongani Gumede, Executive Head: Community-Public-Private Partnerships for Tongaat Hulett Developments. “This is a solid example of what can be achieved when a community is empowered to take control of its own destiny. These five children are a reflection of the dedication of Blackburn Village and we can look forward to many more successes in the future.”
For more information or to assist with sponsorship of the Community-iThuba ECD Centre, contact 061 097 7305 / 061 492 0677 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
This graduation was seen as a milestone for this first year of the Centre, and vitally important as a show to the community as to how far the ECD has progressed. The ECD Committee hope that parents whose children do not attend, will be encouraged to enroll their children next year. The ECD centre is fully equipped to handle 68 children. However, due to high unemployment, parents can only afford to send their children when they are employed. Sponsorship of a child through a bursary fund would be greatly appreciated – see details below where funds can be deposited. Ongoing teacher training, as facilitated by the Domino Foundation, also requires funding. The ECD Committee are hoping that companies and individuals will continue to sponsor their learning so that they can continue to improve the quality of education they deliver at the ECD.