Across the world people are waking up to the importance of making sure that the children in their care are equipped as best as possible, as soon as possible through early childhood development (ECD).
ECD can mean closing the gaps between different classes and working to fight inequality in the long run by levelling the playing field. It can ensure that no class has an advantage over the next as a result of their upbringing.
Ntataise, meaning “to lead a young child by the hand”, looks to use the benefits of ECD to foster a generation of children who are given the best possible start in life. Founded in 1980, the organisation was created with the aim of helping women living in underprivileged areas in Free State to establish their own ECD programmes.
Since inception, the organisation has spread its influence from Free State to all corners of the country. It has been dedicated to improving the development of young children for the better part of the past three-and-a-half decades.
Jane Evans, the founder and director of Ntataise, says the organisation is “one of the oldest and, I also like to think, one of the leading mental health organisations that works with communities in developing early childhood development for children who would otherwise not have access to this early intervention”.
According to a report compiled by Ntataise, the organisation has empowered thousands of women across the country who have used the skills and knowledge acquired to benefit some 500 000 children. They have also helped to improve the standard of the programmes on offer nationwide.
Chief among the organisation’s successes is its ever-growing network, which includes some of the country’s leading ECD training organisations. The network has been in the making for more than 20 years and continues to swell its numbers as more and more people become aware of what ECD can offer.
Today, the Ntataise network consists of 18 ECD programmes, spreading its influence to seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Members of the network have access to:
- Accredited training programmes;
- Resources and learning materials;
- Moderation and assessment systems;
- Programme development; and,
- Mentoring, support and capacity building programmes for facilitators of ECD programmes.
Angelina Mashio, the director of Siyathuthuka Nursery School Project, said the project had been “getting assistance from Ntataise since 2002”.
“We also got training and more development, especially as new directors of organisations and programmes that offer this training,” she said. “Ntataise tries its best to improve our working conditions by capacitating us and developing our trainers.”
The strength of the Ntataise programme lies in the fact that, through the network, it receives constant feedback from many sources. This allows it to continuously improve its programmes and ensure they are implemented properly and remain relevant.
Its reports indicate that, through its network, Ntataise reaches about 3 000 practitioners and more than 100 000 children countrywide each year.
Evans believes it is vital that the public, the government and ECD organisations such as Ntataise work together to ensure the poorer sectors of society aren’t left behind.
The sustainability of Ntataise’s programmes and its expansive network is dependent on the generosity of people who believe in the cause.
To help ensure its longevity, visit the Ntataise website for more information regarding the part you can play in helping it deliver ECD programmes in future.