MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME

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We wanted to make sure that our programme would be able to be expanded to impact on as many children as possible, and therefore decided to use a mentorship model. Our knowledge and programme is shared with each of our mentors, who each empower a number of teachers, who then positively impact every child that attends their crèches now and in the future. The more mentors we train, the greater the reach of the programme.

When one considers that almost 80% of a person’s brain potential is developed by the age of four, this is the time when we should be investing as much as we can in a child. If we don’t build those foundations, the child is really at a disadvantage in formal schooling.

The lack of these vital foundations can be seen in the fact that:

  • the Global Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum consistently places South Africa last in the world in Maths and Science (The black and red lines on the graph show when these concepts should start to be introduced).
  • the latest Annual National Assessment results (ANA’s) released by the Dept of Education (in 2014) puts the average achievement in numeracy in Grade 5 as 37% and in Grade 9 as 11%.
  • less than half of the children who start Grade 1 this year will reach Matric.
  • of those that do reach Matric, a quarter of them will not be able to achieve the 30% pass mark.

Singakwenza believes strongly in empowering women who are self-motivated but may not have had access to further education due to financial constraints. We work with crèche teachers who have shown initiative and commitment, by helping them to make their crèches into educational facilities rather than a babysitting service. We encourage them to grow their own crèches into a sustainable business which offers a solid educational foundation for their children, and to continue independently once we have given them the skills and the knowledge. The mentors, who speak the same language and are from the same cultural background as the crèche teachers, spend one day a week in each of their 4 crèches. They go every week for a minimum of two years, teaching the caregiver how to educate the children in her care using the resources made from recycling, and why it is so important to do this. Their role is to walk alongside these crèche teachers, guiding and encouraging them towards a daily fun, structured, educational programme so that when we leave, the programme will continue without us.

To ensure that no children are disadvantaged by developmental delays, we employ an Occupational Therapist (OT) who regularly visits all the crèches Singakwenza supports, providing free occupational therapy advice to learners, parents and staff.  The OT is establishing a sustainable Occupational Therapy model.  She teaches caregivers how to identify barriers to learning (“red flags”), how they can help children with mild issues, and who to refer children to that have more severe problems.  The OT also assesses children in each crèche that present with these “red flags” that she has helped the teacher identify. She gives the teachers programmes that they can do with some of these children, and liaises with the government services in various communities, especially medical team members at both primary healthcare and hospital levels.