In the picturesque KZN Midlands, a group of people is determined to take a step towards breaking the cycle of poverty and improving life for all in the area. The members of the Rotary Club of Hilton and Howick have embarked on an early childhood development education project that will see 25 of the most deserving teachers receive bursaries over the next few years.
Research has proved that when children begin their education earlier, they grow up more intelligent, capable and successful. While pre-school, and more specifically Grade R, in South Africa is not compulsory, the government has taken these findings seriously and plans to make Grade R compulsory.
For some time now, Rotary clubs across South Africa have worked to improve the situation at poorer pre-schools. Many found that once the teachers were properly trained, the support networks and participation from the parents developed.
Statistically, a better-educated population is more peaceful and has a lower incident of crime and other socio-economic problems. Sadly, education has not received the attention it needs and the members of the Rotary Club of Hilton and Howick feel that “the sooner we start implementing these long-term solutions to improve education, the sooner we will see the results in our communities,” explains President Maurice Wilkinson.
“Our conscience won’t let us stand by and watch the suffering continue. When you go to the poorer schools we support, you see how desperately the parents want their children to receive the best – but sadly, that is not what they can afford.”
However, says Wilkinson, “The teachers at these schools are an inspiration in themselves. What they can’t buy, they make. What they don’t know, they try their best to learn. We all know that tertiary education is expensive and sadly, that makes it an impossible dream for many of these teachers.”
Thankfully, the Rotary Club of Hilton and Howick’s members view the impossible as merely something that will need a little extra elbow grease! They have embarked on a project to train Early Childhood Development teachers over the next few years.
The course the club chose, in partnership with Caversham Institute, will not only equip the teachers but will ensure that their qualifications are recognised. Courses offered by Caversham Institute are recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority and the teachers trained in this project will receive an NQF5** qualification in Early Childhood Development after two years of study.
The project will begin early next year when the first five teachers start their studies at Caversham Institute. It will be staggered over the next few years with a cumulative minimum total of 25 teachers being trained at a projected cost of around R700 000.
Fundraising began at the beginning of the year, but sponsorship and contributions are still needed towards funding these bursaries. “We still need to raise just under R50 000 in order to let the first five start their first year of study in January. However, the more we raise, the more we educate,” explains Wilkinson.
**The NQF is a comprehensive system for the classification, registration and publication of articulated and quality-assured national qualifications and part-qualifications. It is a single integrated system comprising three co-ordinated qualifications Sub-Frameworks for General and further Education and Training, Higher Education and Trades and Occupations. An NQF5 falls into the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework.