Gandhi Development Trust’s Early Childhood Development Values Education Project: Izimpande Zobuntu By Kanya Padayachee

Dramatising a values story in a Values Education class (Inhlangano Yeziwe Day Care Centre, Folweni) during evaluation.

Gandhi Development Trust’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Values Education Project (VEP) is making incremental progress in equipping Early Childhood Development practitioners/caregivers with a core set of universal values – underpinned by Ubuntu – to guide their classroom practice and promote behaviour change in the children in their care. At the completion of the third year and phase of the project (September 2015 to August 2016), the following outcomes have been achieved:

  • Successful values education training of 5 trainers from Umzinto, Umlazi, Kwa Makutha, Folweni and Hammarsdale

  • Promotion of holistic learning in the inclusion of the supporting/parallel programme in Food and Nutrition, Creative Arts and Physical Development by DUT lecturers

  • Development of an effective community development training model in which the sourcing of practitioner trainees is effected by the community trainers

  • Completion of the values training programme, certification of the 5 trainers and the 93 practitioners and implementation of the programme

  • Concerted and ongoing strategies to propagate the values project, generally, and the values training, particularly, including establishing relevant networks and partnerships

  • Promising and encouraging impact on the children in the trainees’ classrooms

  • Progressive spread of the values training programme from 18 sites in the first two phases to 98 in the third and 119 trainees trained and 4760 children impacted

  • Effective support, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the values programme in selected sites in all 5 areas

  • Dynamic partnership training programme with DUT established for the parallel training and community engagement programmes

  • Development of appropriate networks and partnerships to sustain, expand, market, popularise, share and improve the project

In the words of the trainers…

  • Values training changes people’s lives. It had a positive impact on my life and my trainees. The practitioners said they learnt something new after every lesson and always gave positive feedback

  • This course has planted a seed in us all. What we’ve learned has been passed down to the crèches

  • As the chairperson of Insimbini ECD Association, I feel humbled to get this opportunity to be a trainer of the trainees, it was a privilege

  • I want to thank Gandhi Development Trust for the knowledge and experience and for opening my mind to go out and spread the values to the community. More especially the spirit of Ubuntu being planted in our young children in our ECD centres

  • I’ve become so confident now after this training. I learnt new values and these are values that the kids should also take to their homes. I learnt that if you cooperate with people you can do so much together rather than on your own

Endorsing the project

In her message of support, funding manager, Kudzai Mqingwana, acknowledged, firstly, the innovative project concept and model and, secondly, its tremendous successes thus far. In encouraging the current cohort of trained practitioners/ caregivers to uphold and implement the programme’s values, she reminded them of their impact on the children and the commonly accepted understanding that children model the adults around them. “Often, the teacher is more important at home than parents, you create an incredible impact on our children, so, please be the champions of these values. Teach our children and let them come home and teach us these values so that good change can be seen at home.” Commenting on the collective responsibility to our communities, she said, “We want to see the spread of values, where you teach others to teach others. The way I am affects you; the way you are affects me, Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. Continue to be the good foundation for our children’s lives.”

Positive Impact on Children

The evaluations undertaken by the ECD trainer at participating preschools/sites, together with anecdotal reports from trainees, all confirm the positive impact on the practitioners/caregivers and the children in their care. These range from practitioners/caregivers’ improved understanding of managing children calmly and their ongoing personal reflection towards more positive and affirming practice to an increase in respect, caring, cooperation, motivation and the ability to solve peer conflicts on the part of the children. Below are some of the comments from the classroom practitioners:

  • Noticeable demonstration of empathy amongst children – towards physically challenged and children with learning disabilities

  • Evidence of sharing, patience and respect among children

  • Greater willingness to share resources and enjoy team effort in the completion of activities

  • Children actively taking responsibility for their actions when they hurt/injure other children

  • Children visibly more observant and attentive in class

Clearly, the project has shown significant growth and development. Evidence of this range from the phenomenal increase in numbers trained, the number of children brought ‘under the umbrella’ of values, the spatial spread covering five areas and including both urban and rural to the ongoing addition of relevant partnerships and networks.

The next phase of the ECD VEP, critical to consolidating the gains made thus far and safeguarding sustainability, is the development and implementation of a parent enrichment programme to reinforce the values ethic in the home and to assemble a core group of trainers drawn from Phases 1, 2 & 3 for community ECD VEP roll outs.

While the best chance of developing caring and socially responsible citizens is starting in the earliest years of a child’s life, it must also be said that central to achieving this long-term objective must be our commitment to be credible role models for children to mimic.

More recently Kanya Padyachee, GDT’s ECD Co-ordinator wrote, on Wednesday (21/06/2017),

Nomandla and I undertook visits to two of our community training centres. Our expectations were far exceeded in the training sessions (Umlazi and Hammarsdale) as we saw not only the commitment and work ethic of the trainers with the fully absorbed trainees as they engaged with the values but, more significantly, we felt the palpable enthusiasm in the class!

They are all there of their own volition, learning about values and the application thereof and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience – how amazing is that!!!

The real story, however, concerns another of our trainers in Kwa Makutha who we visited on our way back. While chatting with her about the progress of her training, she told me that, for her, the best outcome of the values training has been in the Umbumbulu ECD Association of which she is the chairperson. Fifty of her values education trainees are site supervisors drawn from the association. Prior to the values training, the members were tearing themselves apart with typical infighting, destructive gossip and general discontent, to the extent that she was seriously considering relinquishing her position.

After the training, it was like a wind of change had swept over the association – now, members are constantly referring to the values and reminding themselves of the need for cooperation and cohesion in their deliberations. In addition, they never miss a class and eagerly anticipate their training!! Can you imagine the impact of their newly acquired skills on the sites that they manage and, of course, on the children in their care!! Heartwarming stuff and so encouraging to know that we’re doing something right!!!!”

By | 2017-11-09T15:54:37+02:00 June 29th, 2017|June 2017|