Funding by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) will finance the building or upgrade of 21 early childhood education facilities across the Eastern Cape.
Grants of up to R3,5 million will be used to construct nine “bricks and mortar” buildings which can accommodate up to 120 children and 12 containerised schools, according to NLC Commissioner Charlotte Mampane.
The NLC was previously known as the National Lotteries Board (NLB). Containers are used where there is insufficient land for a formal building.
The Eastern Cape rollout is part of a R400 million national project by the NLC, which will fund the upgrade or building of some 155 early childhood development centres around South Africa, she says.
One of the first centres to receive a new building will be the Loyiso Day Care Centre in Mdantsane NU 9, where a sod turning ceremony was hosted on Saturday, November 14.
“Today I have received my miracle,” is the way Loyiso Day Care centre founder Nonkoliseko Mbewu described the grant.
“The informal structure often leaked and the children didn’t have enough space to play and learn freely,” she says.
Other centres in the province which do not have sufficient land for a building or where the are insufficient pupils will receive an “Edutainer,” which consists of a classroom with tables, chairs and all the necessary learning materials.
“Teachers can start immediately with lessons once the container is installed,” says Mampane.
A second service container containing a kitchenette in which to prepare food for the children, a sick bay and an office is included in the centre.
“We will also provide a fence if required and install outdoor equipment,” says Mampane.
The Loyiso Daycare Centre and the other successful applicants in the Eastern Cape were selected from nearly 5 000 applications received from early childhood development projects around the country after a call for proposals by the NLC to support its commitment to invest in early childhood development initiatives.
According to Prof Ntshengedzeni Alfred Nevhutanda, chairperson of the NLC board, the Eastern Cape was allocated R64 million. At16 per cent of the budget this is the second-largest share after the Free State.
The NLC recognizes that a weak foundation in early childhood development can seriously undermine the social and economic vitality of the nation, he added at the sod turning.
“In a bid to address the educational and socio-economic gaps caused by inadequate investments, the NLC has cemented its commitment to investing in ECD initiatives and ensuring that such programmes become game-changers in the lives of many South Africa children, particularly in the poorest communities,” says Mampane.
She says the sites for the Eastern Cape centres were selected in partnership with the Department of Social Development, which identified the most needy communities.
Building plans for the brick and mortar schools have also been pre-approved by the department.
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