Early childhood development (ECD) practitioners, commonly referred to as teachers at creches or early learning centres, are professionals worthy of recognition, acknowledgement and reward.
These are virtually forgotten nurturers who ensure, against all imaginable odds, that children grow and thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, morally and socially from birth to nine years old.
For more than a decade only Absa and the South African Congress for ECD have made sure through the yearly ECD Awards that these selfless warriors are encouraged to register with the education, health and social services authorities.
Several new nation-building partners have joined the campaign.
They are Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation, SABC Education and the Office of the Rights of the Child in the Presidency. Together these partners also back the government's ongoing mission to persuade ECD centres to register with the education and social services authorities.
It is only when these practitioners and centres become an integral part of the mainstream that the sector will become adequately equipped to nurture well-rounded future leaders.