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Grooming the young for the future

By Victor Mecoamere | Jan 20, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THINGS have started to look up since one of South Africa's caring, compassionate and dedicated early childhood development practitioners won the 2009 Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards.

THINGS have started to look up since one of South Africa's caring, compassionate and dedicated early childhood development practitioners won the 2009 Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards.

The awards' nation-building partners are ABC Education, education and social development departments, South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, UN International Children's Emergency Fund, Sowetan, Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation and Absa Foundation.

For Mary Mabatle, winner in the home-based ECD centres category, it's been tough making things work at the Kgantsho Day Care Centre in rural Moretele in North West, where water shortage and poverty are a way of life.

Mabatle, whose runners-up are Limpopo's Ikageng Crèche, led by Suzan Matlou, and Free State's Iketsetseng Crèche, led by Martha Senamathele, said she hopes to extend the centre, buy a huge water tank and educational learner support materials with the R50000 prize.

"I am overjoyed. It was an unexpected blessing for the Kgantsho Day Care Centre to be chosen as the best home-based ECD Centre in South Africa," Mabatle said.

"When I started the crèche in 1998 I did not think that a decade later I would be reaping God's grace for having taken my neighbours and fellow-residents under my wing and nurturing them by giving them the tools to face life boldly at school and in adulthood," she said.

Mabatle cited her retired husband, Pule, two teachers, a childminder, cook, gardener and the children's parents as her "reasons for success".

She said: "Every day, without fail, my husband carried 12 loaves of bread for the kids from Pretoria where he was working, whether or not the parents paid the R20 monthly fee, which is now R100.

"My colleagues are the best. Most parents are supportive. Only a few stand back. Things improved slightly when the social development department started subsidising the centre," she said.

"The award is going to help with additional space, educational learner support materials and providing water for our 66 future leaders. Our water tank was swept off and destroyed by strong winds over the festive season," she said.

Mabatle said she is surprised when parents see the importance of taking their children to crèche, but fail to become involved in the development of their children, by at least reading bedtime stories to them.

"No other place, except crèche develops these wonderful small people into well-rounded participants at primary school, up to when they are adults," Mabatle explained.

"Here we help them develop skills to explore the environment, learn to accept and interact with new people and other situations and cultures, and help them to learn vital communication and life skills. And above all, here is where they become independent people."

Here are the other winners:

lCommunity-based ECD Centres: KwaZulu-Natal's Zisize KwaQhatha ECD Centre, led by Hlengiwe Mthinkhulu; Limpopo's Nhletelo ECD Centre, led by Gladys Siweya; and North West's Happy Day ECD Centre, led by Ruth Lekgetho;

lPractitioners: Western Cape's Georgina Bacheloor of the Batchville Pre-Primary School; KwaZulu-Natal's Ayanda Xaba of Macongo Crèche and Mpumalanga's Beauty Masinga of Jack and Jill Crèche;

lECD Resource and Training Organisation: Western Cape's College of Cape Town, represented by Melody Marescia; Gauteng's ECD Projects, represented by Shirley Orsmond; and Limpopo's Woz'Obona-SEP ECD Community Services Group represented by Peter Sekgobela.

lInnovation in ECD kudos went to Pulamadibogo Orphans and Vulnerable Resources Centre, headed by Phuti Ragophala from Limpopo; Ntataise Lowveld Trust, led by Barbara Kenyon from Mpumalanga and Hi-Hopes Project, headed by Claudine Storbeck from Gauteng.


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