Bright begin­nings for chil­dren of Mook­gophong

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Su­laiman Philip

neW eArly child­hood de­vel­op­ment cen­tre will help pre­pare young chil­dren for pri­mary school.

Chil­dren need to play. It is an im­por­tant part of child­hood de­vel­op­ment. A new early child­hood de­vel­op­ment (ECD) cen­tre in Mook­gophong, Lim­popo, will give the com­mu­nity’s chil­dren the op­por­tu­nity to learn through play.

The han­dover cer­e­mony for the Ra­madimetja Sophia Mo­got­lane Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre was in­cor­po­rated into the area’s Man­dela Day cel­e­bra­tions.

As Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa ex­plained when he opened the cen­tre’s doors, “This will en­sure that chil­dren meet the nor­ma­tive de­vel­op­men­tal mile­stones of be­ing able to read, write and count when they start pri­mary school.” Mammoko Ramok­gopa, an early child­hood de­vel­op­ment spe­cial­ist in the De­part­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion said it was im­por­tant that chil­dren get the best ed­u­ca­tion and care at the very early age as this foun­da­tion be­comes crit­i­cal later in their lives.

“See it as build­ing a house. If you don’t get the foun­da­tion right, the house will not stand strong. It is there­fore crit­i­cal that we pro­vide the chil­dren with the best care and ed­u­ca­tion while they are still very young as this builds them and makes them bet­ter and stronger hu­man be­ings later in their school lives and through to uni­ver­sity,” said Ramok­gopa.

The con­struc­tion was funded by phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Ci­pla and is an ex­ten­sion of a creche that was run from a shack in the 28 000-strong com­mu­nity.

Along with ed­u­ca­tional toys and play­ground equip­ment, the school of­fers its 105 chil­dren ac­cess to vis­it­ing health staff and age-ap­pro­pri­ate com­puter train­ing.

Meet­ing chal­lenges

The in­for­mal school that gave rise to the new cen­tre bat­tled to re­tain trained staff and did not have ap­pro­pri­ate play ar­eas for the chil­dren, said prin­ci­pal Maria Molotsi.

She added that although the new fa­cil­ity had al­ready had pos­i­tive im­pacts, the com­mu­nity has in­suf­fi­cient ECD cen­tres. “There are many chil­dren that have to stay at home while their par­ents work.”

In ad­di­tion, many lit­tle ones still come to school hun­gry.

But her fa­cil­ity is a bea­con of hope. She ex­plained that her school now has five teach­ers and a cook. Along with the ed­u­ca­tional and play op­por­tu­ni­ties, Molotsi has de­vised a menu that meets the chil­dren’s daily healthy meal re­quire­ments. Pre­vi­ously un­der­nour­ished chil­dren are now fed fresh veg­eta­bles from the school’s own vegetable patch.

She is proud of the fact that when the chil­dren go on to pri­mary school, they will be able to count, read, write and get along with oth­ers.

Molotsi has one ex­pec­ta­tion when the chil­dren leave her creche. “When they go to school, the teach­ers must say that the chil­dren from the Ra­madimetja creche are bright and beau­ti­ful.”

Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and Min­is­ter of Health Aaron Mot­soaledi meet the chil­dren of the Ra­madimetja Sophia Mo­got­lane Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre.

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