SOUTH Africa's cream of early childhood development excellence will be honoured in Pretoria tomorrow night.
At that precise privileged moment when each of these unassuming, selfless and highly innovative nurturers of our future leaders are recognised, acknowledged and rewarded, they will find the following affirmation by philosopher Patanjali to be true:
"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds.
"Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world.
"Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."
Chosen out of hundreds across the country through the yearly Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards, almost all these finalists entered the early childhood development arena to make a tangible difference in the lives of children, but are being feted as champions in an unsung, yet crucial sector of the public education system.
The other members of this formidable, trendsetting nation-building partnership programme include the Social Development and Basic Education departments, SABC Education, Unicef and the SA Congress for ECD. Sowetan has made the awards a part of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation's youth and community developments portfolio.
The partnership is helping to create a sector of highly skilled, motivated and innovative ECD practitioners by promoting and recognising excellence among practitioners, resource and training organisations, ECD centre managers, those improving, updating and upgrading ECD methods and programmes, as well as those producing appropriate and relevant ECD publications.
After being given awards for best resource and training organisations, home-based centre or playgroups, practitioners and community-based centres, the partnership encourages the development of ECD practitioners and the infrastructure, improvement of ECD centres and resources and training organisations.