Early learning workers lauded

Katlego Moeng

Katlego Moeng

More than 80 industrious men and women working in early childhood development centres or crèches were honoured in Pretoria at the weekend through the yearly Absa and Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards.

Absa and Sowetan organise and sponsor the awards with the South African Congress for ECD, SABC Education, the Office of the Rights in the Presi- dency and the Department of Education (DoE).

Each finalist received a certificate. Legae La Bana Crèche, a North West ECD centre, topped in the home-based ECD centres category.

Inkanyiso Creche of KwaZuluNatal and IK Makuse Early Learning Centre of Mpumalanga shared first place in the Community-based ECD Centres category.

Keletsong Community Training and Resource Centre of North West scooped the first prize in the Best ECD Resources and Training Organisations of the Year section.

Nozipho Mbeka Sijaji of Western Cape took the overall winner's mantle for the Best Practitioner of the Year section.

Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramo- kgopa, DoE director-general Duncan Hindle and Absa's group executive for public affairs Riah Phiyega, commended the ECD practitioners or teachers, most of them women, ECD centre mana- gers and representatives of ECD resources and training organisations for their selflessness and determination.

In her welcoming speech Ramokgopa assured South Africa that her leadership and personnel would "double Tshwane's efforts to nurture children in their developmental years".

"Where there is a problem, those working in such crucial sectors, including ECD, should make a collective effort and approach local, and even national government, to share information and ideas in areas where we can all be of help," Ramokgopa said.

She encouraged parents to "listen to, interact with and stimulate their children".

Referring to successful international initiatives in early child development, Ramokgopa said; "When (the government) intervenes at that most critical time, no one can say you were too late."

Hindle echoed Ramokgopa's sentiments.

She said: "There is a need for us to continue to recognise, at every level of the system, people who are clearly going the extra mile, delivering something well beyond what they are expected to do - people who are promoting quality in education."

Phiyega added that South Africa could be transformed into a better country through such partnerships as the one driving the yearly Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards.

She likened the partnership's success to the "positive" jingle made by several bangles, whereas one bangle would fail to produce a similar result. - Additional reporting by Victor Mecoamere