Most would agree that there is no shortage of willing people and good intentions when it comes to community social upliftment in the Franschhoek Valley. In fact, some might suggest that there are too many projects and initiatives and, to paraphrase St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the road to failure is paved with many of those good intentions. Bhabhathane recognises this, and as an organisation has always been quick to partner with effective, existing organisations to further its aim of transforming the schools of our Valley.
One such organisation is the registered Section 21 Public Benefit Organisation, Prochorus, which was established in 1996 and has a proven poverty-alleviation track-record in a number of impoverished communities in and around Stellenbosch, Somerset West and Cape Town. With the establishment of a local Franschhoek presence and their overt interest in Early Childhood Development (ECD), a Bhabhathane/Prochorus working relationship makes perfect sense.
The Prochorus model focuses on the implementation of sustainable programmes at existing crèches by actively supporting crèche owners, through training, the coordination and provision of volunteers and the sourcing and distribution of sponsorships and donations.
“Our goal as Prochorus,” says Brett Garner, the experienced school head and educator at the helm of the Franschhoek office, “is firstly to redress the social imbalances in society and secondly to meet the needs and concerns of the local community. The Bhabhathane Steering Committee defined the need for intervention in ECD as just such a concern and, given our experience in that field, we’re excited to come alongside them in their endeavours. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Todwil Foundation and support from the Shofar Franschhoek church, we’re in a position to make an immediate, positive impact as we empower the heads of the various schools to effectively manage and run their schools and assist with the provision of training and resources.”
Alastair Wood, project director of Bhabhathane, adds “We are delighted to be partnering with Prochorus on the ECD project within Bhabhathane. The critical importance of the first five years of life to one’s future development is undisputed, so the ECD project has been given the very highest priority by the Bhabhathane Steering Committee. This committee includes the principals of the seven schools in the Valley together with the Chairman of the ECD Forum, and it oversees all Bhabhathane’s work”.
There are twenty ECD Centres in the Valley which currently teach some 600 learners. Each Centre is at a different stage of development but all will participate in the project to varying degrees depending on their status and need. The objectives of the ECD project will be to achieve full enrolment, increase the capacity and upgrade existing ECD Centres, develop a compliant common curriculum based on the recently-released curriculum framework from the Western Cape Education Department, support the ECD Forum, assist ECD Centres to become registered and funded by the Department of Social Development, assist teachers to become qualified and provide food to those learners in need.