Ntataise ECD Centres of Excellence Hub Project

A scalable solution to expanding access to quality ECD for young vulnerable children

The Ntataise ECD Centres of Excellence Hub Programme provides a holistic approach to support and improve ECD services, both centre and non-centre based, to achieve quality. The programme has three key objectives including:

(1.) increase registration and compliance of minimum health, safety and legislation norms and standards,

(2.) develop ECD practitioner knowledge, skills and capacity to facilitate play activities and enhance interactions with young children, and

(3.) engage the broader community in order to leverage resources and increase awareness of the importance of early stimulation and quality care for vulnerable young children.

In 2018 with the support of the National Department of Social Development, the programme was implemented by Ntataise and eight Ntataise Network members working in marginalised communities in 5 provinces, reaching 329 community and home-based ECD facilities and approximately 740 practitioners. In 2019, the National Department of Social Development has pledged continued support enabling the project to expand to an additional 160 ECD centres in Limpopo, Free State, North West and Mpumalanga.

The Hub model incorporates support and monitoring systems with a focus on collaboration, peer-learning and reflection to ensure the programme continues to be responsive to community needs and is suited to varying contexts. Part of this process involves quarterly review workshops with all project implementers to come together to share successes, challenges and lessons learnt. One key lesson has been the importance of incentives and technology to help sustain sharing and peer-support amongst ECD practitioners. Ntataise is exploring an online incentive programme that is linked to rewards and provides support, oversight and quality assurance in playgroup, home-based and community ECD centre facilities.

’’This programme is a turnaround strategy for centres. It takes practitioners back to basics on how to practically apply their training in supporting children to learn through play. Practitioners have started visiting each other’s centres on their own, with healthy competition forming between them no matter their qualification or skills level. Our local DSD Social Worker has even reported having seen improvements at centres and has been encouraging other practitioners to visit the centres that are part of the Hubs, describing them as centres of excellence ‘’ (Alice Phrime, Realeboga-Bakubung).

’’The Hub workshops link the Early Learning Development Areas (ELDAs) to activities, and as a result have enabled practitioners to have a working knowledge of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF)’’ (Colleen Walters, Safe & Sound)