Science tells us that the early life experiences of children shape the architecture of their developing brains. Children who feel loved and protected, receive good healthcare and food and are given opportunities that spark their ability to learn, are able to build strong foundations for their future adulthood.
Quality education at preschool level improves children’s school readiness and builds skills early in life that have long-lasting effects. But for many children living in under-resourced communities across the world, the opportunity for a quality early learning experience in a preschool environment comes with a hefty price tag.
One of the core elements of a good early learning programme is quality age and culturally appropriate educational materials. However, many ECD centres in under-resourced communities in South Africa struggle with access to such materials. In addition, brain development in children who do not receive adequate nutrition during the all-important 0-6years is severely curtailed.
Since 2018, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation has distributed quality ECD teaching materials to under-resourced creches and ECD centres in rural areas throughout South Africa. We also use our extensive media network and profile to raise awareness of the critical need for quality early childhood development, to provide children with the foundations necessary to reach all their development milestones, achieve good academic results and go on to become productive and valued adult members of society.
Our ECD support now goes further; with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the subsequent national hunger emergency in poor communities, it became obvious that thousands of children in outlying rural communities were not receiving adequate nutrition.
As part of our ‘Feeding the Wildlife Community’ humanitarian work, by July 2021 we had delivered 1,5million nutritional meals to needy mothers and children at creches/ECD centres in outlying areas throughout South Africa, thanks to the support of the DoMore Foundation and other partners.
We continue to support up to 50 creches/ECD centres bordering game reserves in northern KwaZulu-Natal, through the regular delivery of DoMore vitamin-enriched porridge packs and educational talks about healthy nutrition for the mums, which benefits 3,000 young children every month.
We also provide other forms of support to the neediest creches, such as ECD teaching materials, educational toys and games, onsite water tanks for clean drinking water and shaded play areas.