“You don’t have to get it right; you just have to get it going…..”
It has been almost 14 years since the ambitious and hope-filled meeting of 189 countries, who declared that global poverty must be defeated within 15 years. The Millennium Declaration set fourth eight goals that would, in time, indicate the success or failure of the war on poverty. The heads of state’s signatures on the Declaration were hardly dry when men, women and children all over the world, inspired to renew the fight against hardship and deprivation that has characterized modern society, went to work. There was hope in the horizon!
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To promote universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality and empower women
4. To reduce child mortality
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability
8. To develop a global partnership for the development
The South African MDG Report of 2013, states that the government has attained the goal of providing educational access to all for the 7 – 13 year olds. This has been made possible through the use of multiple policies and strategies; for example increased funding, increasing the availability and geographic spread of educational facilities and improving the teaching and learning environment. However, it acknowledges its shortcomings in service provision to children below 7 years of age – Early Childhood Development (ECD).
According to the report, the government focus will now expand to include access to ECD based on the assertion that quality ECD can potentially improve learning outcomes throughout the school system. Even though there has been a steady increase in the percentage of learners enrolled in Grade R in public schools between 2002 and 2011 universal enrolment in Grade R may not be achieved by 2014.
Time to Listen
The opportunity to contribute to the greatest educational need in the history of South Africa and of the world is an extraordinary privilege. The Rotary Club of Claremont has been granted a chance to listen to the children, to hear what they have to say. We have the opportunity, in terms of Section 10 of the South African Children’s Act (2005), to engage in conversation with children “of such age, maturity and stage of development so as to be able to participate” in the matter of their early education.
Children are treasures that need protection. The Rotary Club of Claremont believes that if we listen closely, we will hear children asking for the opportunity to just be children; the chance to play and to learn through play. This is the opportunity that Claremont Rotary Club’s Injongo Educare Project is providing.
We record some notable ‘firsts’ that illustrate the Injongo Educare Project ‘can do’ attitude over the past year:
Resources made available: Claremont Rotary has committed extensive funding and has demonstrated the capacity to mobilize additional significant cooperate funding;
Long-term commitment: Setting a precedent for Claremont Rotary in terms of the Rotary ethos, supported by establishment of a project office and dedicated management structures within the Club.
Defined focus: Philippi is one of the fastest growing township in Cape Town, with population of about 191 000 according to the South African census of 2011. The township is relatively new. Despite the limited size, it encompasses a range of economic, residential and demographic characteristics, making it representative of underprivileged areas across the country.
Target/beneficiary group identified – community engagement: Injongo operates in partnership with Philippi West Early Childhood Development Forum (PWECDF) according to a Memorandum of Understanding. The PWECDF is an engagement forum of 47 mutually supportive principals of ECDCs/Educares in the Philippi West area of Cape Town. The forum shares a common ideal of providing better ECD services, and care for children and their parents.
Business Plan: This guides implementation and details the goals and parameters of the Project. It describes measures to ensure project is: sustainable beyond Claremont Rotary’s involvement; monitored and evaluated; replicable in other areas; and achieves measurable outcomes relating to health, security and education for children in care; and for the development of self-management of individual ECD units.
Partnerships: partnering with like-minded organizations, government, municipality in areas concerned with the well-being of children is a core sustainability component of the Injongo. Further to this, local business can invest corporate social investment budgets that would support aspects of the financial burden of ECD. Injongo provides an opportunity for the government departments of Social Development and Education, private business and civil society to come together to tackle one of the greatest challenges society has ever faced.
The Injongo Educare Project is an example of an ambitious project driven by community needs in an under resourced township.
“You don’t have to get it right; you just have to get it going!” So says motivational speaker Mike Litman, and pretty much sums up the beginning of the Injongo Project.