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iThemba with Care for Education

In our partnership with the Sweetwaters community, we focus on improving the ECD landscape firstly because research shows clearly that investing in ECD has the biggest impact, and secondly because we were asked by the traditional leadership to assist them in ECD. Traditionally, ECD is not something that has been valued or understood in Sweetwaters, not by parents and caregivers, and often also not by the providers of daycare. We chose to mentor teachers and caregivers over the long term instead of doing handouts and presenting workshops, and as a result, have seen more sustainable change. We now have more experienced ECD practitioners mentoring other local teachers, and positive peer pressure creating a community working together to help each other improve. Whereas parents in new areas are often still unaware of the fact that children are able to learn from a young age, a much bigger awareness can be seen in areas where we have been mentoring parents for years, indicating that we are closer to reaching a tipping point where valuing and providing ECD becomes the norm.

 

In the heart of Sweetwaters, iThemba Projects is a community development organisation working on education, mentoring, and nutrition to restore the community. Their focus is on Early Childhood Development (ECD) projects, aiming to empower teachers, parents, and caregivers in providing quality ECD to young children.


Using the training and resources from Care for Education, iThemba weaves LEGO® DUPLO into their programmes. Their mission is to elevate ECD practitioners’ competency in play-based learning, infuse play into homes, and cultivate caregivers’ confidence as active contributors to their children’s educational journey.


Their Asidlale programme involves working with practitioners in preschools. The training is integrated into mentoring sessions and strategic planning meetings and extends to youth mentors and nutrition teams. They have also welcomed a new cohort of home mentors who use, among other resources, LEGO® DUPLO to kindle play between parents and caregivers and their children.


LEGO® DUPLO resources are stored at a community centre and distributed through a toy lending library. ECD centres are provided with kits that they can exchange for different resources. Each home involved in the programme also receives a toy bag containing books and toys.


Parents have embraced the world of LEGO® DUPLO.


"Sometimes I think the parents enjoy the DUPLO even more than the kids. As we explore it together, they start to realise that you can do EVERYTHING with DUPLO. Then they just go: "WOW!"



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