A cohort of Early Childhood Development (ECD) Practitioners from the Kouga Local Municipal area, received their National Diploma Certificates this past week, at a graduation ceremony which took place at the Thornhill Combined School. Practitioners proudly accepted their certificates at the event and spoke of the broad benefits of studying and the impact it has already has on their teaching abilities.
Maleshwane Dwane, from Noxolo Crèche in Patensie, remarked on her interaction with children and her improved problem solving abilities, saying, “I have learned new ways of interacting with children and how to solve problems more effectively. Plus, the children are benefiting from more exciting and diverse ways of learning and gaining knowledge, which I get to express each day as they master new knowledge.”
Similarly, Natashia Visagie, from Disney ECD Centre in St Francis Bay, said, “Studying has taught me how to provide appropriate care, affection and opportunities for learning. It has equipped me with the knowledge and skills that I need to stimulate childhood development.”
This group of NINETEEN very proud Practitioners successfully completed the two-year National Diploma in ECD, NQF Level 5, as beneficiaries of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm ECD Practitioner Training Programme. This same group previously completed their Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC) ECD Level 4 and trained for their NQF Level 4 under the same programme funding.
To-date almost 40 Practitioners have received Diplomas with funding from this Programme, all of whom teach at ECD centres in the communities of Humansdorp, Jeffreys Bay, Westin, Thornhill, Sea Vista, Patensie and Hankey.
“I believe that the impact of ECD on children, families and society can never be overestimated, as it not only builds young child’s intellect but also supports their emotional, social and physical development, which forms that foundation for their futures,” said Pieter Oosthuizen, Asset Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, who addressed the graduates, speaking of his experience, having been raised by an ECD Practitioner.
Having commenced their National Diploma studies in 2019, these Practitioners went on to achieve this important qualification, despite the challenges of studying remotely during COVID-19, in addition to teaching. Significantly, this Diploma exceeds the Department of Social Development’s requisite that requires each ECD centre to have at least one practitioner with an ECD NQF Level 4 qualification on site.
“Our objective is to develop appropriate cadres of early childhood practitioners with relevant and sufficient skills to support the implementation of the national early childhood development policy and programme as defined within the National Integrated ECD Policy of 2015. The provision of skills and knowledge provided through our training programmes, funded by Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, continues to ensure that every child has an opportunity to access age and developmental stage appropriate early learning opportunities until the year before entering the formal schooling system that will ultimately prepare all children for optimal learning,” explained Caroll Warmberg, Managing Director, ITEC, which is responsible for the implementation of this intervention.
Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm funds the implementation of a developmental programme that includes ECD Practitioner training; mentoring and support programmes; ECD compliance and governance; ECD centre infrastructure; as well as the provision of equipment and classroom resources.
“We are heartened by these Practitioners’ achievements and their dedication to help ensure school readiness. It is our vision for children, within our beneficiary communities, to receive early learning and equal opportunities through access to early childhood development services, which are necessary to ensure their rights to growth, development and protection. For this reason, our programme is comprehensive, as we know that we need to do more than just provide equipment and resources; we need to invest in the future of these communities by offering mentorship and encourage further education,” concluded Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.
Stakeholders and ECD centres were identified through consultation with the Eastern Cape Education and Social Development Departments.