The importance of ECD
Education holds the promise of leveling the playing field and preparing all learners for their lives after school. While further studies and future careers may seem far off for our country’s two, three and four-year-olds, the stimulation and development opportunities these young children receive is crucial to their future success. Early childhood education is inextricably linked to how these children will perform as adults, largely because early learning builds the foundation for later success. The first 1000 days in any child’s life lays the crucial foundation for the child’s future capacity for success while continuous development should occur until the child reaches formal schooling.
Fortunately, South Africa has already made ECD services an apex priority, through the introduction of enabling policies anchored on the National Development Plan 2030 objective – to support optimal development of South African children.
The signing of the Early Childhood Development Policy by Cabinet on the 9th of December 2015 made provision for two kinds of service delivery platforms to improve access for children in various living circumstances and backgrounds. The one platform is the traditional, but expensive, centre-based, and the other is out-of-centre programmes. The latter appealed to Cotlands – with its 80-years’ experience in serving young children – to heed the call to ensure that as many vulnerable children as possible are reached with structured ECD programmes.
Cotlands realised that, if we were to start seeing meaningful change in the lives of these young children, the early childhood space required innovation with regards to how programmes are delivered. Because of this, Cotlands revamped the delivery of early childhood development programmes through three key operational focus areas: early learning playgroups, toy libraries and capacity building.
We have one chance to get it right.