Children from birth to four years old, represent almost 10% of South Africa’s total population, of which only 37% have access to an Eaarly Childhood Development (ECD) facility, to provide the solid foundations for social and academic development. Children in urban areas are at an advantage in terms access to, and quality of, ECD centres, while rural communities, where arguably the services are most critical, are lagging behind, leaving young children ill equipped to succeed in school and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.
In this context, Africa Foundation is active in five rural communities within uMkhanyakude District, in Northern KZN – an area consisting largely of conservation parks and agricultural land.
Poor infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water, electricity sewage, sanitation and solid waste services are major concerns in these communities, as well as access to quality education and employment opportunities.
Ikusasalethu Creche in Nibela commenced in 2015, in the house of a community member, Richard, who was concerned with the distance that children living in this specific part of Nibela, had to travel in order to access pre-schooling. The community Induna (Chief) donated land so that the creche could be formally created and Richard funded the small building that we now see. The structure is approx. 3m², on a piece of land approx. 70m long and 20m wide.
There are 39 children enrolled from 8 months to 4 years, cared for by two teaching staff and a cook/cleaner.
There is no water source at the site, or kitchen. Cooking takes place outside and water is collected from a community supply and stored in on site.
Critically, there is no fencing and the creche is open onto the road, as well as into the bush behind. Cattle and goats roam through the site daily, and vehicles pass along the main road.
Finally, there are no ablutions, which compromises the health and the dignity of the staff and children, who are required to go into the bushes.
Despite the conditions the teachers are very positive and provide excellent care and educational activities for the children, as best as the environment allows. The space is clean and the children well cared for.
Africa Foundation aims to support infrastructure development at Ikusasalethu Creche, commencing with the highest priority of supplying ablutions, and fencing the site for the safety of the young children.