From dilapidated shack classrooms to a model brick and mortar school, the transformed rural early childhood development centre (ECD) in the North West township of Kanana was yesterday officially opened by South Africa’s First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe.
The new ECD centre is a far cry from the tiny hovel of 2015, crammed with over 200 preschool children, thanks to pharmaceutical giant Aspen Pharmacare.
Like the economically depressed community that surrounded it, the preschool experienced high rates of tuberculosis (TB) infections. Cramped conditions and poor ventilation inside the classrooms increased the chance of infection.
Situated in the shadows of the gold mining dumps of Klerksdorp and disused opencast mines, Kanana has some of South Africa’s highest TB prevalence rates, according to the national department of health.
Kanana is situated in a 150-year-old mining belt, which includes gold, uranium, titanium and copper, but residents have little to show for the mineral wealth beneath their feet.
Motsepe was welcomed with song and dance by the children at Kanana ECD centre, which boasts furnished classrooms, an ablution block with running water, a fully equipped kitchen, a stocked storeroom, an administration office and a sick bay, as well as a playground.
Aspen has played a significant role in its transformation, including rebuilding and equipping it.
The local community, Adopt-a-School Foundation and the North West department of social development joined forces with Aspen to make this project a reality.
Motsepe said: “The foundation phase of a child’s education is critical for their development. This is where the quality of early childhood development plays an important role in shaping their future.”
Lauding the three social partners “for restoring the dignity of the children”, Motsepe described the centre as “an inspiration”.
In an area that has an unemployment rate of 61%, the two-year construction phase of the centre created temporary jobs for 70 local residents in Kanana. Their newly acquired skills and experience have improved their potential to find employment.