Ensuring progress in implementation of the ECD Centres of Excellence Hub Programme

October and November were action-packed months for us as we travelled around the country visiting some of the network member organisations and practitioners that are part of the Ntataise ECD Centres of Excellence Hub project. The purpose of the visits were to observe the enrichment workshops and peer-learning sessions in action, as well as to engage with facilitators, mentors and practitioners to gather feedback on their experiences of the project. The visits form part of Ntataise’s Monitoring and Evaluation processes for ongoing learning, accountability and refinement of our programmes in order to continuously improve outcomes and impact.

The journey took us to Hubs in Standerton, Delmas and Ogies in Mpumalanga, after which we made our way through the Free State to Welkom, Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Thaba Nchu, Phuthaditjhaba and finally to visit one of the Gauteng based Hubs in Ekhurhuleni. The feedback received was extremely positive overall, with facilitators reporting significant improvements in the implementation skills of practitioners who are now capacitated to provide a wider variety of play activities with children. The Hub model allows practitioners the opportunity to visit each other’s playrooms and develop a peer support network within each grouping. During the visits, practitioners and facilitators shared numerous success stories and reflected positively on the impact of the programme on both their personal and professional development. The words most commonly used by practitioners to describe how they feel as a result of the programme included: confident, motivated, supported, empowered, excited and capable… In their own words…

“I used to be scared if anyone came into my playroom to observe me, but now anyone can come any time! I know if I need help I can go ask other practitioners in the Hub and they will be there to support me.”

“As a Matron in my centre I often felt alone. These workshops and visits have taught me so much and make me feel supported. I now have the necessary policies and understand how to work with others in our community better. The layout in all the playrooms in my centre have improved. We have learnt so many new activities and understand how they link to the ELDAs (Early Learning Development Areas).”

“The workshops have given me confidence and taught me about how to work with parents and community members. I have been getting many compliments from parents because they are seeing improvements in their children.”

“I no longer worry about the lack of resources in my centre because I now know how to make play materials from waste products.”

One key point for consideration going forward is how to ensure that quality implementation and sharing between practitioners via these newly formed communities of practice is sustained beyond the project. As the programme continues into the next year of implementation, the feedback and evidence gathered through these site visits will inform further programme planning, review and implementation.

Practitioners from 7 different centres singing and dancing with children during a peer-learning demonstration visit at Isibonelo Nursery School in Phola township, Mpumalanga.

Practitioners working together in groups to brainstorm ideas during a Hub workshop.