Quality Early Learning Programmes.

Every child attends a high quality early learning programme for at least 2 years before starting school.

Young children who attend a high quality early learning programme for at least 2 years before school are more able to benefit from formal schooling and they perform better at school as a result . These benefits are most pronounced for children from low-income households. For optimum outcomes, the evidence suggests that a minimum of 15-20 hours per week is needed and that outcomes are optimised if children are enrolled before the age of 4 years . These programmes can take a variety of forms, including preschools, playgroups and day care services.

In South Africa, over a million 3 to 5 year old children have no access to early learning programmes.

Most of these children are found in the poorest communities. Overall, 83% of 3 to 5 year-old children from the wealthiest homes attend a preschool programme, compared to only 58% from the poorest. As a result, many poorer children start school with a distinct disadvantage, having missed the starting block of a quality early learning programme.


1 Nores, M., & Barnett, W. (2010). Benefits of early childhood interventions across the world: (Under) Investing in the very young. Economics of Education Review, 29(2), 271-282.

2 Gustafsson, M. (2010). Policy note on pre-primary schooling: an empirical contribution to the 2009 medium term strategic framework. Stellenbosch economic working papers 05/10. Stellenbosch, South Africa: Department of Economics and Bureau for Economic Research, University of Stellenbosch. Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality(SACMEQ). (2011). Learner preschool exposure and achievement in South Africa. Policy brief no 4. Pretoria, South Africa: Ministry of Basic Education.

3 Aboud, F.E. (2006). Evaluation of an early childhood programme in rural Bangladesh. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 46-60.

4 Loeb, S., Bridges, M., Bassok, D., Fuller, B., & Rumberger, R. W. (2007). How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children’s social and cognitive development. Economics of Education review, 26(1), 52-66. 

Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Taggart, B. (2004). The effective provision of pre-school education (EPPE) project: Final Report: A longitudinal study funded by the DfES 1997-2004. Institute of Education, University of London/Department for Education and Skills/Sure Start.


We invest in solutions that work towards every child attending a high quality early learning programme for at least 2 years before starting school. 

Take a look below at some of the ingredients for quality early learning programmes.

Each contains opportunities for innovation and investment. We hope this information will create a launchpad for creative ideas on how to act on opportunities or solve problems in this area.

We have a year round open call for applications for funding and support for ideas that meet our investment criteria .



Sustainable sources of funding


  • Quality preschool services at scale require innovative sustainable financing mechanisms

Empowered parents & carers


  • Parents who are suffering from depression or anxiety, need to be supported so that are able to support their child’s preschool learning journey.
  • Children need parents and other adults who care for them to enable their attendance of a quality preschool programme for at least 20 hours per week.

  • Parents need to be motivated and able (time, knowledge, tools, resources) to reinforce their child’s early learning activities in the home.

Effective management
  • Preschool operators need sound management expertise, systems and tools.

  • Preschool operators and entrepreneurs need to be better equipped to run their services as efficient and sustainable micro-enterprises.


  • Preschool programmes need to be regularly assessed and improved on to ensure quality.
Motivated & skilled teachers
  • Teachers need ongoing training and development opportunities; and need to feel valued and be incentivised to keep motivated.

  • Teachers need quality tools and resources to facilitate quality learning.


  • They also need to know how to deliver a quality teaching experience.

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