Community outreach and engagement
Community engagement creates awareness of the importance of children’s early development. This awareness encourages parents/caregivers, social workers, ward councillors and community leaders to actively participate in driving the demand for quality ECD programmes from the ground up.
Access to ECD services is a significant challenge to poor communities in South Africa. In spite of an increase in the number of community-based ECD centres, research shows that many children still do not attend ECD programmes, and that there are insufficient ECD programmes to reach the number of children of pre-school age. Existing centres don’t have the capacity to go to scale, and many disadvantaged communities don’t have the funding to establish new centres. In addition, many parents/caregivers simply cannot afford to send their children to ECD centres, no matter how low-cost these might be.
In response to this situation, the primary goal of Ntataise’s Community Outreach Programme in the Free State is to provide play and learning opportunities for pre-school aged children who are not in a pre-school or home based ECD programme. Ntataise does this through its toy library and mobile playgroup units.
The mobile units visit surrounding townships and farms. The on-site playgroup model implemented in these contexts is based on five years of research, in order to establish the minimum exposure of 40 sessions needed for school readiness for children who are not attending ECD programmes.
The mobile units provide the following.