This year we expanded our ECD network to Bizana Municipality in Alfred Nzo District of the Eastern Cape. When we begin work in a new area our first aim is to make sure we reach all ECD services. Once we have a complete database of existing services, we support centres through our network meetings and helpdesk.
Mapping and profiling all ECD services began in January 2020 and completed just before lockdown. This work was made possible through the support of The Nelson Mandela Foundation. This huge task of visiting and profiling 248 ECD services was done through the hard work of our 16 Youth Employment Service volunteers on the ground and three of our experienced senior team members.
A total of 248 ECD sites were visited and profiled.
The geographical spread of ECD services meant that on a good day maybe 4 services would be accessed, and on other days sometimes only 1 service was profiled.
Other challenges which our team incurred in reaching the sites, included:
- Poor signal made it difficult for teams to stay in touch with each other and also make contact with the practitioners who they were meeting to locate the site.
- Poor road access; in some instances there were no roads and sites could only be accessed along grass foot paths.
- Unfavourable weather (days following heavy rainfall or if it was overcast and drizzling) meant that sites could not be reached at all.
- No school days when grants are being collected, this generally fell over 3 days at the beginning or end of the month.
- Limited practitioners; only some services had two practitioners and very rarely there were 3, which meant that fieldworkers would have to ask questions and collect the data whilst children were running around in the background.
It was often hard to identify from the outside whether a site was an ECD service or not. Many services are shacks that were built from corrugated iron sheets and when it is closed or there are no children outside, one cannot determine what purpose the shack serves.
To read our findings click here.