Early Education boost for Overstrand pre schools

Natasha Forbes (right) with Bernadine Damon next to her with the Eco-Schools Certificate, with pre-school children sitting at their desks

Early Childhood Development (ECD) sites in the Overstrand will receive essential support and capacity building through a new project launching in April. Flower Valley Conservation Trust is rolling out the project, which aims to further improve the quality of ECD learning in the region. Flower Valley has been appointed as a service provider for the Western Cape Department of Social Development. Up to seven of the area’s pre-schools, many in vulnerable communities in the Gansbaai region and surrounding rural areas, will receive support. Improved learning programmes, infrastructure upgrades and development, administration and management assistance, and legislative compliance and registration will be looked at.

The project has further been approached to assist non-profit organisations working with home-based care in the region. According to the programme’s coordinator, Gabrielle Jonker, “The needs of young children in the Overstrand are great and complex and require a spirit of collaboration and partnership. This programme hopes to hear and respond to the voices of all those concerned with the wellbeing of young children in the Overstrand, thereby benefitting marginalised and vulnerable children and communities.” Recent studies show that more than six million children up to the age of seven have either very little, or no exposure, to early childhood development in South Africa. It has been found that, without the appropriate stimulation at a young age, children may struggle to learn later in life. Jonker says, “Only together can we make essential progress in the interests of young children. This programme will support all the good work already being undertaken daily, and will add value where it is can.  Working with young children is prima-rily about them – the children. It is about their needs and their rights and respecting the preciousness of childhood.”

Flower Valley, through the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI), ran a programme from 1999 till the end of 2010 to upskill ECD practitioners and to promote good practice through training and development. Flower Valley also hosts a pre-school on Flower Valley Farm for children aged between two and six, offering an environmental education through the Eco-Schools programme. According to Lesley Richardson, Executive Director of Flower Valley, the new project will form part of a long-term ECD programme in the Overstrand region. She says an aim is also to encourage increased emphasis on environmental education. One way is through participation in Eco-Schools.

For more information, contact Gabrielle Jonker: gcook@flowervalley.co.za.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust