ECD centre opens at Ntuli, Rosetta

The small community of Ntuli in Rosetta recently benefited from the establishment of an early childhood development (ECD) centre that has begun hosting children aged three to five.

The initiative was conceived by Mpofana Ward 2 councillor Bheki Khumalo, as part of social projects linked to the construction of Spring Grove Dam. Despite a number of delays, it finally opened its doors to 11 young children in August.

The opening of an ECD centre in itself may not be “big news”, but given the circumstances surrounding the initiative, we believe it is a good story waiting to be told.

A small budget was set aside for community projects within the ward, among which was the upgrading of a prefabricated building in Ntuli village, for use as an ECD centre.

Assistant ECD practitioner Nondumisa Mabitha, right, and ECD practitioner Delisiwe Mkhize, who is studying at Midlands Community College, engage with some of the children as they play with puzzles at the Ntuli ECD centre. Pictures: Garth Johnstone

Collaboration

Once the project had been identified, the community of Rosetta and Midlands Community College in Nottingham Road were invited to assist in a collaboration that saw its launch.

“This is a real case of the government supporting an idea with active participation from local residents and private sector organisations, to implement projects that directly benefit our communities,” said Khumalo.

• A local farmer donated a 10 000-litre Jojo tank;
• Mooi River Hardware donated basins and sinks;
• Local residents donated clothing, toys, carpets, cushions, a jungle gym and teaching aids;
• Bill Pirrie assisted with the construction of the ablution facility;
• NGO Voices of Pietermaritzburg donated numerous toys and training goods;
• Midlands Community College will be providing quality assurance at the pre-school through support and mentoring of the ECD practitioner (teacher), Delisiwe Mkhize, and ECD assistant Nondumisa Mabitha.
• Mkhize has, for the past nine months, been diligently making improvised toys and equipment from recycled materials for the centre, while volunteering at the college;
• Contributions towards the stipends for the ECD practitioner and assistant have been received from the Rotary Club of Mooi River Midlands, as well as from Debby Evans and James Martin.

Play and stimulation are vital in this phase of a child’s learning. Despite a number of challenges, the centre opened to its first 11 children last month.

Of the centre, Colleen Osborne, head of the ECD department at Midlands Community College, said: “This long-awaited facility has already affected the lives of 11 young children and, as the Midlands Community College, we are happy to be a part of something so positive.

“We will ensure that the quality of education is of the highest standard and although there have been challenges along the way, we are ecstatic that the centre is now operational.”

Midlands Community College, which specialises in ECD and the training of practitioners, has given invaluable advice on every aspect of the setting up of the centre, ensuring it is totally compliant with all Department of Social Development regulations.

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“Despite all the good work that has brought the centre to this point, we are still in need of stipends for the teachers, amounting to R3 000 a month.

“Certain funders have pulled out and we are relying on the generosity of locals and organisations within the area to contribute what they can,” said Debby Evans, education consultant and active participant in the ECD Centre team.

**To assist the team in sustaining this gem in Rosetta, contact Colleen Osborne on 082 578 0396.

More Midlands education: caring for community

A collaborative, community effort is behind the ECD centre established at Ntuli in Rosetta.