At the beginning of February 1993, young Lerato Malesa was one of 11 pupils enrolled in the first pre-school for the children of Riversands Farm and the nearby Diepsloot township. Thanks to Konica Minolta South Africa, a division of Bidvest Office (Pty) Ltd, her Early Childhood Development (ECD) journey has come full circle.
Lerato successfully completed a year-long Business Administration Level 4 Course, funded by the company, in July 2018. She now owns a pre-school in Diepsloot, which is one of the neatest and best run pre-schools in the township.
To show its commitment to helping the state of ECD in the country, in 2016/2017, Konica Minolta South Africa chose 12 female learners from the township to participate in the first Diepsloot Early Childhood Development programme, Usisi (meaning “My sister”). The learners graduated in January 2018. As a result, there are now six new pre-schools in Diepsloot and Limpopo.
“Konica Minolta South Africa adds so much value to the process of teaching, by assisting the Diepsloot Pre-schools Project,” said Patti Hanley, founder and developer of the project. “Konica Minolta South Africa has also been donating printers for around seven years. We use them for printing brochures, training courses and additional pre-school material.”
Laetitia Coetzer, chief human resource and development officer at Konica Minolta South Africa, said the company had also donated a copier with a maintenance contract to the Diepsloot Pre-school Project to support and help the communities, and in particular Diepsloot pre-schools.
According to a report released by Statistics South Africa in 2018, based on the findings of the General Household Survey data, Early Childhood Development in South Africa, 2016, there are close to 8,2 million children aged 0-6 in South Africa.1 A large percentage of these children grow up in homes that do not provide for communication or play that stimulates learning.1
A devastating consequence is that these children from poor backgrounds may start life at a disadvantage and can lag behind their peers who have attended ECD centres.2
“Konica Minolta South Africa sponsored the learners on this course and has upskilled township women to become teachers,” said Coetzer. “Now, they teach a structured education programme for pre-school children because they have the necessary foundation level skills. This enables these women to start their own micro-enterprises and pre-school businesses, thereby creating more employment in the townships.”
To further support community learning, Konica Minolta has a mobile library focusing on making books available to schools without such facilities.
“This helps the children to improve their reading. The Edu-Care Foundation running the mobile library also uses mothers from the communities to help with extra reading classes,” added Coetzer.
One of the six National Integrated Early Childhood Development components adopted in 2015 is to provide children with foundations for early learning, socio-emotional, and language development through play and other related activities from birth until they enter formal schooling.3
“Through initiatives like these, Konica Minolta South Africa has positioned itself as a force of positive change in the education sector,” said Coetzer.