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ECDConnect.

Focus Area

Quality Preschool Programmes

Innovation Lever

Product or Service

Stage

Proof of Concept

Status

Open

After it’s abrupt closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ECDConnect seeks to support the revival of the ECD sector and efforts to get children ‘back on track’ by providing meaningful and timeous information to service providers, while gathering data to inform decision making and resource allocation.

The Problem.

There are over 3 million children between the ages of 3 and 5 years in South Africa, 63% of whom were enrolled in some form of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme prior to the Covid-related national lockdown. These services are often informal, and many operate outside of formal information management systems, making it difficult to understand and respond to their needs at a time like this. 

The ECD sector faces many challenges in re-opening, and returning children to their care. These range from clear informative guidelines, to relevant psychosocial support for caregivers and children. Combined with the lack of resources in many parts of South Africa and the financial strain that many are feeling, now more than ever we need innovative ways to connect with and support our ECD service providers.

The Innovation.

ECDConnect aims to use 2-way communication channels to deliver relevant and timely information and motivation to these providers, as well as draw insights from their lived experiences. With the data that we receive back from the pilot cohort of service providers, we will be able to quantify, visualise and analyse trends within the sector, and make this information available to relevant stakeholders (including provincial and national government, NGOs and Social Services).  

The collection and sharing of data will utilise the latest mobile technology available through an existing partnership with WhatsApp so as to make it accessible to a wide range of potential interest groups in appropriate formats.

Why we invested.

In this unprecedented era defined by COVID-19, access to up-to-date and accurate information is critical. This is especially true for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) practitioners and providers whose very livelihoods are at risk. 

 In contrast however, compared to the flurry of information that has been released by the COVID-19 National Command Council, as well as various government ministries, information from the Department of Social Development regarding ECCE centres, has been noticeably lacking. This has left ECCE practitioners, and caregivers alike, confused, frustrated, powerless, and unable to plan for the future.

We utilise WhatsApp Business. WhatsApp is accessible by most in South Africa. The location-sharing feature adds immense value, as it allows the user to conveniently and accurately share their location and get an accurate list of nearby sites in return. WhatsApp Business is an AI-powered conversational platform. Access to this functionality will make it easy for users to get answers to questions and contribute data. This functionality also enables sustainability and scalability as FAQs become learnt and less manpower is needed on the backend.

The Project Team

Praekelt.org: Their mission is to use open source technologies to deliver essential information and inclusive services to millions of people around the world, especially in Africa.

Ikapadata: A survey research & data science company always looking for new and innovative ways to improve on traditional ways of data collection and analysis.