Most people know that 90% of brain development takes place before the age of five, making these the most important years for toddlers and young children to receive adequate nutrition, social, mental, and physical stimulation, learning support, and medical vaccinations.
Yet less than 16% of children in the province of KwaZulu-Natal have access to early learning opportunities. The national average is 19.5% - in other words, only 1.6 million out of 8.2 million children get help starting life. This is not good enough.
Prior to Covid 2 million children attended Early Childhood Development Centres nationally and we have not even recovered to those low levels.
High-quality programmes produce high-quality outcomes and research shows that a comprehensive birth to age five programme has lasting effects on IQ, boosting academic and economic achievement long-term and helping prevent the incidence of chronic disease and obesity in adulthood.
“It is critically important that our children get the best start in life that they can, irrespective of the communities or the areas that they reside in,” explains Gordon McDonald, Director of Community Chest Durban.
“The state of ECD in South Africa is not great, there are in the region of 42 420 learning programmes currently running employing about 200 000 people and improvement needs to be a priority,’’ continues Gordon.
“We must also remember that not all ECD Centres are created equally and while some centres are excellent there are many that have inadequate outdoor play areas and play equipment, a shortage of age-appropriate learning materials and only about 37% have any sort of musical equipment.
The Durban and Pietermaritzburg Community Chests funding is provided to improve the quality of service offered at the 70 Early Childhood Development Centres that we work with, assisting more than 6 000 children who attend them on a daily basis.
“We are very grateful to the Comrades Marathon Association which gives us a platform to raise funds for the Early Childhood Development Centres that we support.”
“Our dedicated Race4Charity runners, some of whom have supported us for many years, believe in a better future for our children and work hard to raise funds for them, I would like to thank them for their time and effort in raising funds in a difficult environment, it is sincerely appreciated.”