Early Childhood Development

As a result of the severe poverty and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in this area, parents’ abilities to provide for their children’s well-being and development have lessened and families have become fragmented. As a result, there are countless vulnerable children, many orphaned, destitute or heads of house-holds without any form of early childhood care or opportunities for formal education. In most cases, these vulnerable children are under- or malnourished.

Ekukhanyeni’s child development programme provides an holistic outlook to the developmental needs of its beneficiary children which includes an integrated skills development component, provision of direct nutritional support via food donations for dietary modification, nutritional supplementation, as well as long-term sustainable support through the creation of naturally grown and toxin-free gardens using Permaculture design. Ekukhanyeni has partnered with 15 backroom crèches to carry out its objectives.

There are currently no other early childhood care and education programmes at these crèches, which is very common to informal settlement environments. Although adult training is underway by Ekukhanyeni to build capacity on a community level, especially for the educators and care-givers at the crèches, the Skills and Movement Development component of the programme is the only form of education or developmental framework which these young children receive.

The Skills and Movement Development component, designed by an occupational therapist, enhances children’s cognitive, social, physical, intellectual and emotional skills. It facilitates muscle toning and physical development but with emphasis on having fun and learning how to play through the development of fine and gross motor skills. Based on forms of structured play, the programme uses simple apparatus in pre-development exercise games proactively exercising the child to develop gross motor skills; as well as the utilization of arts and craft activities for the development of fine motor skills.

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The 15 crèches which Ekukhanyeni supports lack infrastructure and human capacity which inhibits improvements in service provision and effective care for the little ones attending their facilities. Ekukhanyeni addresses these issues through upgrades and adult education and training for the care-givers, thereby promoting a hygienic, safe and nurturing environment for the children.

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Given a healthy start and a solid foundation in the first months and years of their lives, children are less likely to suffer from illnesses, repeat grades, drop out or need remedial services.

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