R2.8million to kickstart ECD centre

2015-09-22 06:00
The City of Cape Town’s department of social development held a sod-turning ceremony at Nantes Park to signal the start of construction of on of their early childhood development centres of excellence. Here are (from left): Raelene Arendse (portfolio

The City of Cape Town’s department of social development held a sod-turning ceremony at Nantes Park to signal the start of construction of on of their early childhood development centres of excellence. Here are (from left): Raelene Arendse (portfolio

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The City of Cape Town will be pumping nearly R3 million in the current financial financial year to construct the latest of its early childhood development centre of excellences in Athlone.

The sod-turning ceremony on Thursday signalled the unveiling of the construction of the Nantes Centre of Excellence, which is one of three early childhood development (ECD) to undergo construction in the current financial year.

Construction in Athlone is due to start next week and an initial capital outlay of just over R2.8 million has been budgeted for the work in this cycle, with the total budget for the project set at R7.8 million.

The anticipated completion date for the construction project is July 2016. It is envisioned that the centre will be able to accommodate approximately 120 children.

A place to meet“The whole purpose of the early learning centre or the centre of excellence is to ensure that we have a facility that we can bring our ECD practitioners and children for training programmes, new ideas, new methodologies, new thinking and a place where our ECDs in the area of Athlone can come and meet and do new projects with children,” said Suzette Little, the City’s mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development.

She said that the issue of the broken family syndrome affects the youth and that they want to train them to become more resilient to peer pressure and bullying and foster better, healthier coping mechanisms.

“We need to start introducing learning as an exciting thing, that education and learning is a key to their future and we can only bring that about if we start encouraging young people about learning at very early age. The child at 12 (years of age) who doesn’t attend school cannot see the benefit unless we start (with them) at a very young age and I am hoping that we will see the benefits in these centres that we are setting up. We have seen the improvement in the areas where we do have centres, where people are participating.”

The City’s social development and early childhood development directorate has constructed a number of ECD centres of excellence in recently and will also build further centres in Leonsdale, Ocean View, Fisantekraal, Netreg and Strandfontein.

“Our construction efforts have been guided by a study we commissioned in 2009 to identify areas of need for early childhood development,” elaborated Little.

In addition to providing ECD infrastructure, the ECDs will be assisted in becoming compliant in terms of health, fire safety and planning regulations so that they may register with the Western Cape Government’s department of social development. “When I became the ward councillor in 2010, I was looking for a place where we could do recycling, where we could get children together, because I truly believe that we need to start that type of training at a very young age.

Drop-off centre not allowed“This piece of land actually belongs to social development (Nantes Park itself belongs to community services), so it was quite easy for us to identify it as an ECD. When we tried to do it as a drop-off centre, we couldn’t because they would not allow us to do a drop-off centre. We then asked for it to become an early learning centre, a centre of excellence, where we can do full gardening and recycling and all of those things.”

Other assistance includes training for ECD staff in terms of learning outcomes, but also child safety through accredited first-aid training, the provision of learning materials and fire safety equipment, and the establishment of ECD Forums.

“In this financial year alone, we are spending just over R13 million on our ECD interventions. We all have a duty to ensure the proper development of our children so that they are ready for the challenges that come with formal schooling, while also designing learning environments that ensure children’s safety and well-being.”

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