Early childhood development (ECD) is one of South Africa’s biggest challenges, with many education centres in disadvantaged communities not sufficiently equipped, trained or resourced, which affects the development of little ones. Of the nearly 8.2 million children aged 0-6 in South Africa, almost 46% live in low-income households, with about half of these children not attending any ECD facility.
GROW Educare Centres is helping ECD centres in low-income areas through social franchising partnerships and setting them up for success as sustainable businesses. The NGO is currently sitting at 44 centres nationwide and is helping more than 1,720 children in 89 classrooms grow and learn daily, while supporting more than 220 jobs in education. Their model invests in entrepreneurs and franchisees who already run creches, providing them with the tools, processes and support needed to deliver quality early learning for preschoolers aged 2-5.
Jennifer Crossley, ECD Teacher from Generations Educare Centre in Maitland, Cape Town said her mission was to have the best ECD centre in her area.“It all started when I took over as the new manager at the Generations Early Learning Centre. For me it felt like everything was just wrong, from the administration, learning equipment and the education programme, to the general appearance and cleanliness of the centre,” she says.
Crossley decided to join the GROW Educare Centres family by franchising. In addition, high-quality learning equipment and user-friendly material were delivered to the revamped centre. “It was the most exciting day for all of us. I was filled with hope when I saw the bright eyes of my little ones,” she says. Crossley added that the GROW Educare Centres team did not stop there. They also provided training workshops, business, education mentoring, school visits and coaching, financial guidance, a great day-by-day education programme to all staff members.
According to Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW Educare Centres CEO “We care deeply about ensuring that children from underprivileged communities receive the best education in their most crucial years. We also understand that the only way quality can be maintained is if centres are financially sustainable, accessible, supportive of job creation and teachers are paid what they’re worth,”.
Applications for new ECD franchises are open, with the deadline for applications extended to March 14.