According to South Africa’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Census 2021 report, 40% of the country’s centres do not have flushing toilets, and around a third do not have taps to supply water for hand washing. Additionally, 50% need materials to assist children with counting and 34% require an outdoor play area with suitable equipment.
South Africa’s most recent ECD census also reveals some of the significant challenges the sector still faces, especially regarding infrastructure and learning material support. Unfortunately, these resources are necessary for the country’s centres to fulfil their role as significant enablers of children achieving their full academic potential.
“Early childhood development sits at the core of the Ackermans Ububele Schools programme. It enables us to give back to communities that support us in the most sustainable way – including nurturing a love for reading and learning in the next generation of leaders,” says Hanifa Jassiem, Ackermans CSI Manager.
As a proudly South African company, Ackermans has been committed to improving the country’s ECD centres by transforming them into fun, engaging, and interactive learning environments since 2016 through the Ackermans Ububele Schools programme.
Over the last six years, the clothing retail store has invested over R15 million in the programme to provide new, quality literacy programmes, improved physical ECD environments, and teacher development initiatives at centres in underprivileged communities throughout the country.
Through this investment and a collaboration with ECD organisations like The Unlimited Child and Do More Foundation, Ackermans Ububele Schools has been able to offer invaluable support to 140 ECD centres, 5,800 learners, 400 practitioners, and 5,500 parents across the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Free State.
In addition to providing educational resources and infrastructure, the initiative also funds the supply and distribution of daily, nutritional Do More Instant Breakfast Porridge to the most vulnerable ECD centres within the Ackermans Ububele Schools network, allowing children to learn without any distractions due to hunger.
“We are incredibly proud to put our passion for developing an appreciation for education and learning behind this initiative. We’re also grateful to our partners who support us in various areas, from nutrition, food security, play and culture to parent support and community upliftment. Thanks to their expertise, resources and support we have provided our community members with better ECD learning opportunities,” concludes Jassiem.
Ackermans says it is committed to growing Ububele Schools as its flagship programme and is working towards realising its vision of adding 600 new ECD centres to the programme by 2025.