Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) has become a priority sector within South Africa with respect to ensuring equity and high quality of care for the youngest members of the population. SCSA’s ECCD approach is intended to provide parents with the skills, knowledge and tools to ensure that children are stimulated, learn, and improve their skills.
SCSA also focuses on basic education and seeks to support primary and high schools with practical and impactful strategies that will yield more results for children 6-18 years, to enjoy safe, stimulating and quality learning through technology in order to reach their full potential.
Our projects include:
- Healthy Living and Learning- working to ensure that young children under 5 years of age enjoy a safe, stimulating and quality early living and learning environment through improved physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional outcomes.
- Caregiver Learning Through Play - with extensive skills and experience in working with government and communities to improve the quality of ECCD services, SCSA supports ECCD communities including practitioners, caregivers and community champions with information, knowledge, tools, and skills to enable learning through play in homes.
- Bridging the Gap – an advocacy project aimed at raising skills-based education for primary and high school learners in collaboration with education duty bearers - Digital Transformation-targeted curriculum-based interventions to provide digital learning to primary and high school.
We have reached a total of 27 217 children and 6 483 adults, through five projects implemented in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces. The primary mechanisms used to access and develop quality early childhood care and development services are ECD centres, schools and community change agents or facilitators based in communities. In 2021 Save the Children South Africa worked with 97 ECD centres through which it trained 448 ECD practitioners. The capacity of 4 707 parents or caregivers were built in supporting emergent literacy and mathematics, responsive caregiving and learning through play.
As the project implementation continued under Covid-19 restriction levels, resulting in the postponement of various activities, Save the Children South Africa learned that virtual platforms are crucial for intervention to continue, with or without Covid-19. Adapting to virtual implementations enabled progress in the project and provided support for ECCD centres to remain open and provide quality education and care to children. With virtual training we experienced less challenges as 90% of our practitioners were able to join in with challenges related to internet connectivity the biggest barrier to those not able to attend.
Engaging and collaborating with existing partners from the communities who work with the targeted ECCD centres, continues to ensure positive implementation and informs the sustainability of our work. Stakeholders such as the Department of Social Development (DSD), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Basic Education (DoE), and local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) supported the initiatives by attending Save the Children South Africa trainings, linking ECCD centres with Foundation Phase schools, encouraging local clinics to support centres with information and services, more especially due to Covid-19. Collaboration with CSOs was thus critical to the delivery of programme objectives.
Partnerships with other like-minded organisations and leaders in the ECD and Basic Education space were formed to strengthen advocacy and capacity building trainings for the ECD Fraternity. A number of campaign activities were implemented including a webinar on the importance of ECD; stakeholder engagements on ECD coordination; an Op-ED; online Learning Through Play Café; advocating during Local Government Elections focused on councillors. This network and coordination maximise the ECD work done in the country and yield positive results.