Quality Early Learning Programmes.

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

What is the problem?

Many early learning centres are operated under unsustainable conditions that hamper optimum quality growth and development of young children in South Africa. These include poor infrastructure, limited management and governance skills for operators, and a lack of resources and relevant training to enable practitioners to engage children in quality learning programmes. Additionally, while many of the poorest learners are able to attend school due to state subsidies, early learning is primarily funded by caregivers, and subsidies for the programmes that are able to get registered.

Why does it matter?

It has been evidenced that children who attend a high-quality early learning programme, for at least two years before school, are more able to benefit from formal schooling, and they perform better at school as a result. These programmes can vary from preschools to playgroups to daycare services.

The quality of engagement between the early learning practitioner and a child plays a significant role in improving the growth and development of the child. Additionally, evidence indicates that improved working conditions for practitioners have been found to be associated with positive child outcomes, which in turn depend on the quality of centre management.

What is the opportunity?

If operators have good governance and management skills, and early learning practitioners are well-trained and motivated, the quality of early learning programmes delivered will improve. Consequently, this will lead to improved child outcomes across early learning domains including socio-emotional, physical, cognitive numeracy, and language.

We invest in innovative solutions that aim to improve the quality of early learning programmes to ensure that young children benefit for at least two years before starting school. 

Are you a social entrepreneur and have creative ideas on how to act on opportunities or solve early learning programme issues? Below are some enabling ingredients for quality early learning programmes, which we hope will help to guide you. 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.

Effective management
  • Social entrepreneurs and those who work in early learning programmes need to be better equipped to run their services as efficient and sustainable micro-enterprises.
Motivated and skilled practitioners
  • Early learning practitioners need ongoing training and development opportunities, and need to feel valued and be incentivised to keep motivated.
  • Practitioners need quality tools and resources to facilitate quality learning.
  • Practitioners need to know how to deliver a quality teaching experience.

Our investments are featured in the grid below.