It is easy to understand that when you invest in the education of a country, you invest in its future and the society at large. But what about the youngest kids? Are they best off hanging in their mothers skirts throughout the day, or is there a point to invest in their everyday life as well? We visited Cunningmoore pre-school in South Africa to learn how UNICEF is working with Early Childhood Development.
In South Africa, Early Childhood Development is gaining attention as a critical area for meeting children’s rights and needs. The major challenges facing young children relate to inadequate access to integrated early stimulation, nutrition, safety, protection, psychosocial support and health care. The country also strugles with high rates of children failing to complete their education, especially in the secondary level.
Think about it – if your parents have never read for you at bedtime, if you really never have seen a letter or a number, how do you grasp the concept of learning?
In the Cunningmoore pre-school, we met 40 beautiful, smiling kids and one proud lady; the founder and manager Dolly Mathebula. In the pre-school, the children played; received a nutritious meal and most importantly, they started their journey of education by learning.
We were told that the children who attended these pre-schools were much more likely to complete their primary and secondary education. UNICEF has succeeded to cooperate with the departments of Education, Health, Social Development and Home Affairs on these issues. UNICEF’s continuous support to the Early Childhood Development in South Africa has resulted in an increase of these programs for the youngest children from under 10 % in 2000 to 43 % attending them today. And with the spirit and power of the South Africans I met in mind, I’m sure this figure will continue to rise in the near future.