Report on “Birth to Three” Project Cape Town 2014
Link to PDF downloable version: Report Birth to Three project 2014 !
Arriving in Cape Town late Friday night on the 7th of February I was picked up by Helen at the airport. Helen and I had meetings on Saturday and Sunday before she drove me to Muizenberg where I was staying with Robyn Davis for 3 weeks. A very nice place and hostess, not far from the beach and CCE (Centre for Creative Education) which was very convenient as we both had to go to CCE every morning.
Meetings in the first week:
As always there are meetings in the beginning, during and at the end of my time in CT and mainly between Nomathemba, Mary G and I. We went through the work that we had planned for the next weeks, updating, and discussing how to achieve as much as possible in a very short time.
The Birth to Three Courses
We started the two weeks course on Monday with only a few people because of transport difficulties:
Transport problems are a big issue in Cape Town and you have to know about it in order to understand why people come late. Many of the students travel a long way with taxi, buses and trains to get from the Townships to CCE and they can use anything from ½hr to 2 hours in the morning to get there. The trains and buses are not reliable and people lose their jobs because of coming too late to work. Added to that comes all the cost of the transport, some pay up to 500-600 rand for the two weeks, which is a lot if your salary is 1800-2000 rand a month. I am mentioning this because I think it is important to have this picture when we are waiting for the students, to understand it, but it is still a challenge for all of us.
The students attended the course with lots of interest and questions. One of the main tasks we had, was to connect what we learned about child’s development to daily life in the ECD`s. If rhythm is so important, how do we create a good rhythm, or if imitation is so important, how do we become worthy adults that our children can imitate? If environment is so important, how do we create a good healthy environment with what is available ? And many more questions were discussed.
Some of the comments from the students among others were:
I need to learn more to fill the gap when the child is away from home and their parents.
I want to gather more knowledge about the child and the importance of observing.
I feel I learn a lot from the children, but I want to add more knowledge about them and how to do the right things.
Nomathemba accepted the challenge to do her first session about the importance of rhythm and she had good contact with the students, especially when she talked in her own language, Xhosa.
She is also running courses together with Mary-G throughout the year and getting more and more experience in teaching.
During my time in Cape Town I also worked with Ann Sharfman on the “Pedagogical Plan for early childhood, the first three years” A plan covering a two weeks course. We have been working on this for some years and finally we were ready to use it in our work with the “Birth to Three” Project.
We ran two, one work shop with the volunteers from Germany and one with the principals in the Centres, from which their staff are sent to attend our courses.
The latter workshops with the principals are particularly important. It is a place where they can meet and work through the issues that concern them. We discuss the importance of working together as a team and how we can go about achieving that goal.
The more the principals understand what the staff learn on the courses, the easier it is for the principals to support the ideas etc that their staff brings back to the Centres.
And for the students it is a big help when they come back from a course wanting to carry through what they have learned, into their classroom.
An idea came up during the workshop; the principals wanted to meet more often, to have their own little workshop and invite people to come. Before they left the workshop that day (it was a Saturday morning) they have planned the next meeting… will be interesting to see how that will develop. A good start!
This year it was mainly Ikwesi Educare Centre we visited and the babies who stayed in a very small shack last year have now been moved to a new classroom which is wonderful. It is not so cold in winter and the rain is not coming through the tin roof. They have carpets on the floor and toys to play with. The space is better, even though there are still too many children in the room, but hopefully that will change….?
And there are still things that are needed, for example more cots, most of the children are still sleeping on mattresses on the floor, only a few in some of the cots we made last year.
But it is slowly improving and little by little getting better every year.
We also visited some of the ECD`s where the students from our course are working and it was very encouraging to see how they are trying to implement things we had been talking about in the course.
The teachers working with the babies are more and more conscious about what, how and why they do what they do.
Nomathemba wrote in her review of the work:
What makes me want to continue with this project: As I mentioned in our review, to see the change of the attitude toward the children, each and every little effort that the teacher makes to improve her interaction with the children means a lot to me. And I know that they work under often very difficult conditions. They cannot do everything they wish for their classes because much of the changes needed depend on their principals. To see children happy that brings joy to my heart, it gives me hope that one day something good will happen.
I think this is the main reason all of us continue this work:
To reach out to as many as possible ECD`s with training and mentoring,
One way is the courses, but also the field visits throughout the year are very important in order to make things happen.
In this way we are making a difference for some children’s life in the Townships.
Thanks to IASWECE for supporting the work again this year.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank Stjerneglimt Kindergarten for the on going support and the ZAR 60 000 fund raised for the project “ Birth to three “
Arendal 15 May 2014
Eldbjørg Gjessing Paulsen