Developing the nation
CORPORATE social investment and responsibility programmes aligned with the national agenda, like the yearly Absa and Sowetan Early Childhood Development Awards, are uncommon.
Ours is a thriving public-private and nation building partnership that boasts a formidable host of partners.
It comprises of Sowetan, Absa, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation, SA Congress for ECD, Basic Education and Social Development departments and SABC Education.
According to ECD organisation TREE, in a part of a nonprofit organisation's view found in the 10th edition of the respected CSI Handbook: "It is common cause that ECD is critically important to the long-term development of a nation.
"However, this vulnerable sector finds that it is competing for funds in an already crowded and demanding education sector. In the absence of effective state-funded programmes for pre-schoolers, and the sometimes slow delivery of social, nutrition and health support to communities, it falls to self-funded NPOs to fill critical gaps in the ECD sector.
"Given that the future economic growth of any country begins in the earliest years of a child's development, business has a vested interest in supporting ECD.
"(And) whether businesses are aligned to the education sector or not, all businesses have parents in their employ and all businesses have a future which depends on a productive adult population."
The Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards public-private partnership is tackling ECD's cinderella status by providing a joint effort between parents, the community and the government to help early childhood development to make a tangible contribution in the national campaign to nurture a healthy, educated population, and boost the economy.
Here are the 2009 champions of early childhood development excellence in the various categories, who share R300000 in prizes and academic, equipment and infrastructure development support grants:
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.
lHome-based ECD Centres: North West's Kgantsho Day Care Centre, led by Mary Mabatle; Limpopo's Ikageng Crèche, led by Suzan Matlou; and Free State's Iketsetseng Crèche, led by Martha Senamathele.
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 Pula Madibogo Orphans and Vulnerable Resources Centre, headed by Phuti Ragophala, from Limpopo; Ntataise Loweveld Trust, led by Barbara Kenyon from Mpumalanga; and Hi-Hopes Project, headed by Claudine Storbeck, from Gauteng.
l TREE is a previous winner of the Absa and Sowetan ECD Awards in the Best Resources and Training Organisations category.