Developing super children

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

A nation with a feeble early childhood system and programmes is destined for mediocrity and a bleak future.

Sound early childhood development (ECD services are supposed to provide education and care to children in the temporary absence of their parents or adult caregivers.

The supportive roles of parents enhance children's health, nutrition, education, psycho-social and other needs within the family and the community.

ECD practitioners are entrusted with sculpting and moulding children into well-rounded young human beings who will be ready to embrace formal schooling eagerly and passionately.

The first nine years of a child's life are essential for development. Well-structured ECD is vital to the success of a nation.

The national and provincial social services departments are encouraging owners and managers of unregistered ECD centres to become legal. Here are the guidelines that should be followed to register an ECD centre, creche or kindergarten:

lContact a social development department nearest to the proposed centre;

lConsult the local authority or municipality to obtain the right of use and the necessary health clearance certificate;

lContact the local health and education departments.

A person intending to establish an early childhood development centre has to contact a social worker or other official employed and authorised by the provincial social development department to arrange for an interview to discuss issues including:

lRegistration requirements;

lThe Child Care Act;

lRegistration procedures;

lMinimum standards that need to be met by the centre's management and staff;

lApplication forms;

lSubsidy procedure; and

l Monitoring and evaluation processes.

For more details, call the national and provincial social services and development departments' toll free number 0800-60-10-11.

A national campaign that echoes the importance of a healthy ECD sector is the Absa and Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards.

They are sponsored and organised in association with the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, education department, Office of the Rights of the Child in the Presidency and SABC Education. The awards are given for:

lECD practitioner of the year;

lHome-based care centre of the year;

lCommunity-based care centre of the year; and

lResources and Training Organisation of the Year.

Staying true to the slogan - "Discover, Nurture and Prosper" - this nation-building partnership is:

lExposing, recognising, acknowledging, rewarding and developing accredited, qualified practitioners and encouraging properly-registered ECD centres to help create a highly skilled and motivated ECD movement;

lPromoting and recognising the excellence, hard work, dedication and investment in the future of our children by ECD practitioners, centres and organisations involved in the ECD sector; and

lContributing to a child's development by enhancing the preaching and practising of good ECD values and culture relating to health, nutrition, education, emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological development - and encouraging parental involvement.