Parents are encouraged to play role in nurturing kids

ALL of us are responsible for sculpting and moulding our children into independent, assertive and dependable individuals.

ALL of us are responsible for sculpting and moulding our children into independent, assertive and dependable individuals.

Tragically, this role and function has been left to caregivers and teachers at early childhood development centres or crèches.

Even more tragically, informal centres or crèches that are not registered or linked in any way to the education, social development and health departments - manned by untrained, inadequately-trained or qualified managers, caregivers and teachers - tend to keep the children while parents are at work, offering no meaningful stimulation, development or nurturing.

Over the past few years, former Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya led a campaign that was complemented by the nine provincial social development MECs that sought to register and equip informal or unregistered EDC centres and then help with the academic development of the managers, caregivers and practitioners.

Another national campaign that seeks to continue transforming and enhancing the ECD sector is the Absa and Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards whose nation-building partnership would not be a success without crucial fellow sponsors and organisers; namely SABC Education, national education department, South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

Over the past two years the awards were given for the best resource and training organisations, home-based centre or playgroups, practitioners, and community-based centres.

Added to monetary prizes, help is given to improve the safety and security, infrastructure, equipment and facilities at the centres, and to improve the academic qualifications of the centres' staff.

Above all, the centres and practitioners become part of the best ECD networks in the form of the SA Congress for ECD.

Also, the awards encourage parental involvement in the nurturing of their children to help enhance the children's self-esteem, academic achievement, and the parent-child relationships, while also boosting the children's attitude towards the basic concepts of learning and teaching or education.

Parents can help lessen the ECD practitioners' burden by reading to their children, counting with their children, playing or helping their children with homework.

Most importantly, the public nominate the candidates for the ECD awards. It is a unique collective effort.