Education & Enrichment

Preschool Educational Development, Zululand

By July 1, 2016 February 24th, 2020 No Comments
Providing preschool educational development to children of the rural villages of St Lucia with valuable educational resources, classroom facilities and safe playgrounds.
St Lucia is located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal on the east coast of South Africa. Still ruled by the Zulu royal family, the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal maintain a very traditional way of life. Sadly, the population of KwaZulu-Natal has been devastated by the effects of poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Some districts surrounding St Lucia are ranked as among the most deprived districts in South Africa. This is calculated using a combination of indicators including unemployment rates, access to piped water and electricity, low education levels and female-headed households with high numbers of children.

Education indicators are also extremely shocking, particularly when compared to the rest of South Africa. 12% of adults in KwaZulu-Natal have no education, and the pupil-to-teacher ratio is 36:1. Assistance in pre-primary and adult education is therefore a necessity, and supporting learning out of school, which is relatively non-existent in the rural areas, is a desperate need.

Preschool and education programs in the areas surrounding St. Lucia are grossly under-resourced and do not provide the holistic learning environment that is needed. Encouraging pre-primary education is a serious concern for the area, as only 42% of children in this age group were attending some kind of educational institution in 2008. When young children are left at home instead of in créches and preschools, it leaves them vulnerable to being left behind when they reach primary school, and also poses a security risk.

Siyanqoba Créche was a small, dilapidated, wooden hut with collapsing walls and a leaking roof. The children of the créche were forced to learn in this cramped, dark, and damp space. The structure also provided little to no protection from the elements, forcing the children to learn in a hot and humid space in the summer, a cold space in the winter, and often a wet one during heavy rains. This uncomfortable learning space made it very hard for the teachers to teach the students and for the children to be able to focus and learn the material being given to them.

The créche was run by one particular lady, meaning she sometimes had up to eighty children ranging in age from less than six months, to six years alone. Meaning she has to call in local mothers and friends who want to help.

With funds raised we were able to completely rebuild Siyanqoba Créche meaning the children now have a safe place away from the elements to learn and build skills. But due to the previous structure it was prevented from being registered with the government, which provide funds for early childhood development facilities that comply with certain criteria.

As well as our focus on Siyanqoba Créche this ongoing project is geared towards tackling the low education levels in the St Lucia area. To do this, the project aims to provide preschool educational development through resources and equipment necessary to enhance the basic lessons given at our partner créches as well as working on HIV/AIDS primary education and adult English courses.

By raising funds we can supply the créche with educational material and safe toys for children. Now the main classroom has been built, we are hoping to raise funds to put forward a new plan for a baby room. With the large amount of babies at the créche, it becomes unsafe with small children running in and around the small room with sleeping babies.

Another phase we are working towards is skill development for teachers to help improve the quality of education offered to the children and the empowerment of the women working there.

Short Term Impact
Providing the Preschool Educational Development support, guidance, equipment and materials that these schools need will provide the children of the area with better lessons and a better education. Supplying stationary, books, blackboards, desks, chairs, textbooks and volunteer teaching assistants will make lessons a much more pleasant and impactful learning experience. This project will also provide safer working conditions for staff, teachers and students.

Long Term Impact
The continued support of our partner preschools and créches, in the form of preschool educational development equipment and learning materials donations as well as teacher and staff training, will mean that the quality of education will continue to improve. This will better equip the children for primary school and give them a better chance of thriving in their future education. When children are enrolled in créches that are extremely over run they do not get the educational start they need, meaning when they move onto school they end up getting left behind, repeating grades and becoming disheartened. By starting school positively children stand a better chance in finishing school and securing themselves a stable life away from poverty.

The province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on the east coast of South Africa and borders the countries of Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. As its name suggests, it is the birthplace of the proud Zulu nation. Still ruled by the Zulu royal family, the rural areas of KZN maintain a very traditional way of life. Sadly, the population of KwaZulu-Natal has been devastated by the effects of poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A staggering 40.2% of people in the province are estimated to be infected with HIV, and about 10% of these have full-blown AIDS.

Khula Village
Khula Village, situated just five kilometres outside of the coastal town of St. Lucia in KZN, is home to more than 13 000 people. Many of the villagers are either farm workers, employed in the local town of St. Lucia or work on government programmes. Although still a fairly new settlement, this ever-developing village has a clinic, a primary school, a high school, various créches and many community buildings and shops. Building renovations are carried out constantly, which gives true meaning to Khula’s isiZulu name, which means ‘growing.’

According to local non-governmental organisations, an estimated 60-80% of Khula’s population is infected with HIV.

Ezwenelisha Village is set in the beautiful rural landscape of the East Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, about 10 kilometres outside of St. Lucia. A genuinely traditional, rural village in the heart of Zululand, Ezwenelisha is home to a warm and welcoming people, and its name means ‘a new world’ in isiZulu.

The rural layout of the village means that residents’ homes are located far from the community’s clinic, schools and shops. Many houses are built by the government and are fair-sized concrete structures that provide good shelter. However, travelling is difficult because of a lack of reliable public transport, and as a result many people aren’t able to secure jobs in the nearby town of St. Lucia. The overwhelming majority of Ezwenelisha’s households do not have running water and people still have to walk to the nearest river or pond to gather water for drinking and cooking. The majority of Ezwenelisha’s inhabitants work in the nearby sugarcane and pulp and paper industries. The community’s proximity to various agricultural industries means that it is both home to and frequented by migrant workers. Unfortunately, this makes the area particularly susceptible to high HIV/AIDS rates. Like Khula, it is believed that approximately 70-80% of the community’s population is infected with the virus.

We recently built the four walls for a baby room for Siyanqoba Créche in St Lucia. We began building a single classroom for Siyanqoba Créche last year and now with a total of 89 children. We hope this will give the babies a safe place away from the children’s learning space.

Our reading club has also had an increase in attendance and achievements.