Mobile early childhood development centre for rural KZN kids
Nonhlanhla Nozizwe Hlatshwayo
DURBAN - Umhlabuyalingana local Municipality has welcomed the delivery of a mobile Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) in the area.
The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development, Nonhlanhla Khoza recently handed over the mobile ECD to provide services to children in Manaba area, wards 15 and 7 of Umhlabuyalingana Local Municipality in northern KZN.
Speaker of Umhlabuyalingana Local Municipality, Councillor Busisiwe Tembe said: “We are going to ensure that this ECD continues to operate. It is in the interest of parents to ensure that this resource is properly looked after for the sake of their children," she said.
Speaking during the official handover at Sibhongweni Sports ground, Khoza said it was important for parents to show interest in their children's development and improve their relationships.
Khoza said the department intends on rolling out ECDs, especially in rural areas and in farming communities to ensure cognitive stimulation of children in their first 1 000 days.
“ECDs are important facilities that the department brings to communities. In some areas, we have been able to build ECDs together with our stakeholders. However, those ECDs are found to be very far for some communities. We don't want children to travel long distances, hence we introduced mobile ECDs so that no child will be left out, even in rural areas," she added.
The Department said that over 137 children will benefit from the mobile ECD, which is fitted with educational materials, toys, a kitchen and a bathroom. They said the children will also be provided with nutritious food to help mitigate under-nourishment and stunting.
Khoza further stated that the stimulation of children's minds and physical activities was to ensure their readiness to start school.
The department spent over R1.1 million on procurement of the mobile ECD and for employment of staff.
Khoza also cited that all those who will be working with children in the ECD will be screened to ensure that they do not have criminal records.
"We do that because we cannot afford to have people looking after children while they have criminal records. We have a team of social workers who are also attached to work with this ECD and are expected to conduct home visits."
The department said the programme was a collaborative effort with sister departments which will provide integrated services including Health, Education, Arts and Culture, Sport and Recreation, Agriculture and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.