Call for ECD centre in Imizamo Yethu

Carer Thandiswa Nogqwazi, of Theos Educare, looks after 20 toddlers, Monday to Friday.

There is a desperate need for a formal early childhood development (ECD) centre in Imizamo Yethu.

The City of Cape Town’s social services unit recently conducted a needs assessment of Imizamo Yethu’s 14 educare centres, which serve 684 children. These centres fulfil an important social function, accommodating the children of working parents and providing a foundation for further education.

According to the needs assessment report, these centres are mostly run by women and comprise zink roofing sheets fastened together to form a structure.

The report identified several challenges for such centres, including access problems due to narrow and blocked roads; inadequate space for children to play outdoors; inadequate facilities such as playgrounds and child-safe ablution facilities; and high child-to-carer ratios.

In Imizamo Yethu, the supply and demand for facilities was not balanced in terms of agreed service provision standards and current population distribution, the report stated.

“The current ECDs fall within the category of those that can never be registered due to City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning By-law; Early Childhood Development Land Use Policy.”

As such, the report concluded that a new ECD centre in Imizamo Yethu could assist to accommodate the future growth and the population needs in the early years phase.

There have been calls for an ECD centre to be constructed on the temporary relocation area (TRA) above the graveyard on Hout Bay Road, once it has served this purpose after a maximum of 180 days (“Concerns raised about temporary housing site”, Sentinel, January 26).

“The current centres have indicated a high demand and have current waiting lists of 105 children. The proposed new centre can alleviate overcrowding at the other centres and can have a niche age group (1 to 4 years). The majority of the IY children (0 to 6 years) can reach the proposed ECD facility within a
travel distance of 2km,” the report says.

“This proposed ECD facility will contribute to the strengthening of family and citizenship, advance peace and reconciliation in the communities where more children have access to ECD, create a community of ECD excellence in IY for over 60 ECD children, and promote inclusive education and cater for ECD children with special needs as

Community representative Kenny Tokwe assisted the department during the assessment process, and the Sentinel accompanied him to some of the surveyed centres last week.

“The aim is not to put all the creches into one co-operative. Rather, each pre-school would have its own space within the edu-centre,” Mr Tokwe said.

Agnes Msutu has been running her Busy Bee creche since January last year. Currently she and her team look after 25 children between the ages of 0 and four from Monday to Friday.

“Our biggest challenge is there is not enough space for the kids, so we definitely are in need of a bigger space,” she said.

“We also don’t have enough toilets for everyone. I have spoken to some of our parents about a new edu-care centre, and they like the idea. I would also like to see it happen as soon as possible.”

Theo’s Edu-care has been in operation for six years, and looks after the children of working parents five days a week. Here again, space is a problem, with the little ones sleeping or crawling around in a single room.

When it is hot, as has been the case all summer, it was “terrible” for the children, Mr Tokwe said.

One of the facilities that is sure to remain at its current premises is Siluncedo edu-centre and aftercare, funded by Irish millionaire Niall Mellon, who has built thousands of low-cost homes for township residents all over South Africa.

The current library situated on the property is expected to be extended, so that Siluncedo can improve its aftercare service.