Early Childhood development is key to educational excellence

38-ECD front viewTHABAZIMBI – Anglo American Platinum donates pre-school to underprivileged area to ensure children get a solid education foundation.
Early childhood development is crucial in terms of a child’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. Between birth and the age of six children are essentially sponges, absorbing knowledge at an astounding rate. It is during this time that children need the best personal care and learning opportunities available.
Children being taught from an early age usually have improved social skills, less or no need for special education instruction during subsequent school years, better marks, and enhanced attention spans. Likewise, some researchers have concluded that young children enrolled in pre-school programs usually graduate from high school, attend college, have fewer behavioural problems, and do not become involved with crime in their adolescent and young adult years.
According to Kathleen McCartney, PhD, dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Pre-school is a vital building block for children as this is where they are exposed to numbers, letters, and shapes and more importantly, they learn how to socialise – get along with other children, share, and contribute.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) director W. Steven Barnett, children who attend high-quality preschool enter school with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not attend pre-school.
With this in mind, we can now appreciate the tremendous value of the Thabazimbi based Naomi Baba Day Care centre, a brand new facility generously sponsored by Anglo American Platinum.
Pastor Bonface Wambua, chairman of the centre, says that conditions in the old building were unacceptable and the challenges in serving the community seemed insurmountable. ‘’When it rained, the asbestos in the ceilings would get wet and would affect the kids making them sick. Outside, dusty conditions also contributed to ill health with many of the kids and teachers suffering from asthma. Coupled to this, there is rampant poverty in the area with food and clothing in short supply. Anglo American Platinum originally got involved in our community by giving us 3000 blankets for those in need and, our relationship grew from there.’’
Tshepo Maphutse, Social Plans Manager at Anglo American Platinum says that the aim of the project is so that learners from underprivileged communities are able to access decent education facilities. ‘’What touches me most about this project is the commitment from the educators themselves.
Wambua says ‘’Anglo American Platinum came in and simply asked us what we needed. They demolished the original structure and started construction on the new facility. The great benefit to the community was that local labour was used in the construction process which meant that there was immediate job creation through which many people benefited.”
The new facility now asbestos free, is a source of pride for the local community and is helping prepare children for school and giving them a head-start on their education journey. ‘’My wish for the future,’’ says deputy principal Kebaweste Maria Sebola, ‘’is that, not only will the children be using the day-care centre, but the whole community. The boardroom can be used for extra lessons and other activities. We have never had a facility where local children, who need help with their homework, or extra lessons, could go. Now we can use the boardroom as an aftercare centre, which will ultimately help us generate extra income.’’