Over the past four years, Nedbank’s Proud of my Town (PoMT) programme has invested over R1 million towards supporting Early Childhood Development centres. With the ECD sector hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide lockdown, PoMT made it possible for us to make a difference in the lives of a group of courageous educators – and, of course, the young learners in their care – who are facing the devastating effects that Covid-19 has had on this sector too.
Tackling the challenge to comply
With the long-awaited announcement that Early Childhood Development centres could reopen their doors once again, came the immense challenge for these centres to comply with the necessary regulations and protocols to ensure the safety of both staff and children. ECD centres across South Africa had been without income (or had earned limited income) during the previous five months and the majority simply cannot afford to purchase the necessary PPE equipment and put the required measures in place.
PPE for ECDs – Equipping centres to reopen safely
Acknowledging the critical role that ECD centres play in providing safe spaces where children can receive education, nutrition and support, Nedbank’s Proud of my Town programme donated Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Starter Kits to the combined value of over R110,000 to assist 50 ECD centres in the Western Cape and North-West provinces to reopen their doors safely. This intervention brings the total investment in ECD by Nedbank’s PoMT programme over the past 3 years to over R1 million.
Above: All smiles behind the masks at Kiddies Garden in Paarl. From left to right are: Diane Pritchard (Ranyaka), Yvette Galant (Kiddies Garden assistant teacher), Neil Cupido (Proactive Health & Safety), Rosette Jacobs (Zuza) (Kiddies Garden principal), Marcia Williams (Nedbank), Dominique Cupido (Proactive Health & Safety) and Natalie Hendricks (Kiddies Garden assistant teacher). Image by Lizelle Lötter Photography.
What’s in the box?
The starter kits contain the essential PPE, infrared thermometers and sanitizing supplies, as well as educational posters and a Covid-19 protocol file to ensure that these centres comply with the regulations as stipulated by the Department of Social Development (DSD). In addition, the principals received basic training and orientation to assist them in preparing their centres for reopening and maintaining protocols once their children are back in their care.
Support during lockdown
During the early stages of lockdown when ECD principals were hard hit due to the non-payment of school fees, Nedbank’s Proud of my Town programme enabled us to support 78 ECD principals in the Western Cape, Polokwane and Mpumalanga with food vouchers.
PoMT also sponsored airtime and data so that ECD principals could access important information around the coronavirus pandemic. This sponsorship also enabled the centres to participate in important online industry surveys and access online resources made available to ECD centres.
Above: Jakkerland ECD centre in Stellenbosch was one of the recipients of a PPE Starter Kit
The Proud of my Town ECD journey
The ECD programme under Proud of my Town has been supporting 40 ECD centres in Paarl and 20 ECD centres in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape since June 2017 and August 2018 respectively. In August 2020, eight ECD centres in Boitekong township, Rustenburg in the North-West Province were also included in the PoMT ECD network.
In the Western Cape, interventions to date have included training in health and safety, nutrition and hygiene; the provision of safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and emergency signage; the painting of numerous wooden ECD structures with intumescent (fire-retardant) paint; infrastructure repairs; the launch of a food gardens project being piloted at an ECD centre in Klapmuts and this year, various Covid-19 relief interventions, including the PPE Starter Kit donations.
Above: Ikhwezi Educare Centre in Franschhoek is one of several wooden structures that have been painted with intumescent (fire-retardant) paint. Here, principal Nosicelo Tafeni and staff members from her ECD centre joined intumescent paint specialists, Khusela Ikhaya and volunteers from the Ranyaka team, Nedbank and a local high school in Stellenbosch to paint their ECD centre early in March 2020.
Rosette Jacobs from Kiddies Garden Day Care Centre in Groenheuwel, Paarl has been a participant in the PoMT ECD programme since its inception in 2017. Here Rosette shows us the Covid-19 protocol file that she received with her PPE Starter Kit.
Rosette is amongst 40 other principals who have also received training in nutrition, health & safety and hygiene; PoMT sponsored fire extinguishers and safety signage to her ECD centre – and most recently, Rosette is also the recipient of a PPE Starter Kit, enabling her to open the doors to her ECD centre in September 2020.
A team effort
Thank you to Neil (below) and Dominique Cupido from ProHealth & Safety in Paarl for the many hours of hard work and attention to detail in preparing training material, consolidating the file content, delivering PPE kits to the doorstep of every one of our ECD centres who are reopening this year and meticulously training the principals and staff.
Thank you to the Centre for Early Childhood Development who so generously shared useful documents, guidelines, checklists, templates and posters with Ranyaka for inclusion in the Covid-19 protocol and template file provided to the ECD centres in our network.
Thank you also to Paarl-based ECD specialists, Inceba Trust, for sharing expertise and useful educational posters for distribution.
We would also like to extend our gratitude towards the Stellenbosch Municipality – in particular, Funeka Mayembana from the Community Development Department – for their ongoing support and fruitful collaboration.