“No Child Left Behind”: Siyakwazi School Readiness and Catch-up Programme


LEGO in the ECD Centre – Siyasiza supports a small group of Catch-up children with activities – here the children are sorting the different colours


Many children in South Africa still grapple with a lack of adequate resources, poor access to education facilities, as well as food insecurity. For many children, Early Childhood Development Centres have many benefits, i.e., they provide opportunities for teaching and learning, they are places that stimulate perceptual development and to a large extent, ECDs provide food and security for vulnerable children. Against this backdrop, Siyakwazi, an NGO founded in 2013, established a School Readiness and Catchup programme. The programme uses a three-pronged intervention to assist children who are at risk of falling behind. Through workshops, classroom interventions, and visits the readiness programme focuses on children, parents and ECD practitioners/teachers. Support is multifaceted, it includes an emphasis on the value of play, activity ideas, and the allocation of resources such as DUPLO and Six Bricks.


At the start of the pandemic, with many schools closing down, and many kids having little or no access to formal learning, Siyakwazi adjusted its programme to include home-based support. In 2021, Siyakwazi’s goal is to continue to support parents with tools and mentoring on how to support their child’s learning.


For teachers participating in the programme, the benefits of the programme are evident in the children’s behavior “before, the children at the creche didn’t know how to work in pairs or in a group, they would try and compete with each other and not work together. Now they are able to build a tower together if they are given instructions and complete it” (ECD practitioner at Khulanati ECD Centre). Siyakwazi believes in the adage ‘that no child should be left behind’, and they remain committed to providing play-rich-home-and-school environments that enhance learning.


The work done by Siyakwazi has been invaluable, and the distribution and implementation of resources have brought resources to vulnerable children and homes.