Five years ago, the team at Breadline Africa set themselves an ambitious goal – to take their modest infrastructure tally of just over 400 to 1,000 in just five years to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their founding in 1993 in style.
On 17 February 2023, just a month and a half into the year, Breadline Africa celebrated the launch of its 1,000th infrastructure unit at Pooh Bear Educare in Delft, Cape Town.
In partnership with GROW Educare and with funding from MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet, Breadline Africa has made it possible for the pre-school to receive three new classrooms and a jungle gym, finishing a process that began in 2018, when Pooh Bear Educare received a 60m2 prefabricated classroom and two 6m containers converted into a kitchen and toilet facility.
The launch took place on a windy Friday morning, with invited dignitaries, special guests, donors, staff of both Breadline Africa and Pooh Bear Educare, along with both South African and international representatives of Breadline Africa’s governing boards.
The mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, is a staunch supporter of Breadline Africa and during his address, he thanked the organisation for inviting him to these events: “I love attending them. It is wonderful to see! In an earlier speech, you said ‘may this be a place of safety for these kids’, that is absolutely our commitment [as the City of Cape Town] that we are trying to build a safe, cleaner and more inclusive city, where these children can grow up and have a wonderful future.”
He shared the podium with several guest speakers, including Prof Jonathan Jansen, Professor of Education at the University of Stellenbosch, who committed to helping the pre-school to install artificial grass by making the first donation to this, and asked the invited guests to join him. He spoke passionately about the need to “care for the youngest among us, the smallest, the most vulnerable, in fact, that is why we are all here and I thank you for that.”
Prof Jansen went on to say that research in education agrees on one thing: “the investment in the foundation phase and in early childhood has positive benefits over the long term.” He described the pre-school as an oasis and thanked principal, Michelle Davids for her commitment to the children of Delft.
Breadline Africa director, Marion Wagner said: “We believe that every child has the capacity to do something phenomenal with his or her life, given support and development opportunities. Through our infrastructure and in collaboration with partners like GROW Educare, we aim to create measurable impact in addressing school readiness and access to safe pre-schools. According to the ECD Census 2021, nearly 70% of South African children under six are not enrolled in any early learning programme.
“Safe infrastructure is the costliest aspect for pre-school principals. In addition, we cannot address the current school dropout rate of 50% if children are not sufficiently ready to enter primary school. Equipping pre-schools together with our partners, will make a difference in preparing our children to succeed in school and into the future. Education is a path out of poverty.”
Pooh Bear Educare was established in 2009 by Michelle Davids, who is passionate about caring for the children in her community. She began by looking after just a few children from Blikkiesdorp who were left at home, unsupervised. As more children began arriving, she completed a first aid course and then a course in early childhood development.
Running the facility from her home was not ideal. As the number of children attending grew, Michelle applied to make use of nearby land that was being used as a dumping site. Her husband was able to secure a loan, and Pooh Bear Educare received the title deed to their new home. This process stretched their meagre resources to the limit, so Michelle approached Breadline Africa for assistance to build a new centre. And the journey began.
Principal Michelle said: “We are so excited about the classrooms and want to thank Breadline Africa, GROW and MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet with all our hearts. We see so many children roaming the dangerous streets of Delft and many of them are on our waiting lists. These new classrooms will help us accommodate more children. It is a great burden that has been taken away and allows us to focus on the quality of education we provide the children at Pooh Bear.”
Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW Educare Centres, stressed the importance of partnerships between non-profit organisations in the ECD sector: “Breadline Africa and MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet are crucial strategic partners for GROW. Through this partnership, we each play to our strengths to create a win-win situation for ECD owners, teachers and children in low-income communities.
“ECD centre owners receive the much-needed infrastructure improvements and expansion needed to improve children’s learning environments and grow their businesses. These new learning spaces will deliver a significant impact on children and their learning outcomes since GROW supports these centres and they use our proven quality education programme. By working together, rather than in silos, we are maximising impact for children and small business owners in South Africa.”
MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet General Manager Pieter Twine said that the establishment of the new facilities at Pooh Bear Educare is thanks, in part, to the millions of programme members who give back – at no cost to themselves – with every swipe of a MySchool card at partner retailers. “We continue to prove – after decades of success and with thousands of supported causes – that every swipe counts,” he says. “By nominating organisations like Breadline Africa as the beneficiaries of their swipes, our programme members are helping transform one small piece of South African society at a time and making a massive difference to communities across the country, every time they shop”.