They look after your children while you are at work, protect and feed them, take care of them when they are sick, and nurture and teach them on a daily basis. This is job many would not do on little to no pay, but many early childhood development (ECD) practitioners wake up every day to care for children with pride and dedication. On Wednesday (28/11) ECD practitioners were acknowledged by the National Development Agency (NDA) for their hard work and commitment, at an event held at the Flamingo Casino in Kimberley. The annual awards ceremony saw Naledi Seane of the Mpelega Pre-primary School in Kathu being named the best ECD practitioner and Katrina Davids of the Carlientjie Pre-primary School in Danielskuil accepted the award for the best ECD centre. When asked on how she felt about the acknowledgment, Davids said that deep down she knew that they would take it, even though the interview process was stressful for her. She further said that her centre’s success was a result of teamwork and she would like to thank the NDA board members for putting their trust in the centre. Still in a state of total disbelief, Seane said she had not been sure that she would win the award, but with the help of the staff at her school and various stakeholders she was able to make it. This year’s competition received an astounding 179 entries from all over the province, and candidates from the John Taolo Gaetsewe District (JTG) dominated the nomination list. Seven of the nominees received recognition awards and the top three were announced in both categories. The awards are aimed at promoting excellence, hard work, dedication and investment in the future of South Africa’s children by recognising individual practitioners and centres involved in ECD. The awards were established in 2003 by Absa, and in 2014 handed over to the NDA, which is an agency of the Department of Social Development. The two overall winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to compete nationally in Polokwane on 12 December.