The importance of supporting education in South Africa to uplift members of the country’s poorest communities – both children as well as adults – has a critically important role to play in the economic transformation of the country at a grassroots level. This is why global cyber security specialist Exclusive Networks Africa supports Literacy for Life, a non-profit organisation involved in early childhood development (ECD) education since 2015.
“Assisting pre-primary children below the age of seven with access to quality education is simultaneously the ‘right thing to do’ from a moral perspective, while also presenting as an imperative in terms of the ongoing and future development of the country,” says Anton Jacobsz, Exclusive Networks Africa’s Managing Director.
“We are therefore proud to support Literacy for Life and play our part in giving back to communities. Literacy for Life focuses on offering assistance with ECD education in underprivileged areas, assisting children of pre-primary school age with developing the cognitive skills they will need for learning to read and write, as well as for numeracy skills, when they are in Grades R to 3 in primary school.
“In addition, Literacy for Life also offers feeding schemes wherever possible, because the children within their network tend to come from deeply impoverished families, meaning that this fundamental support with nutrition is also necessary to help them with their learning journey. This concept is supported by the South African government’s own initiative, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which has been shown to improve punctuality, concentration and the general well-being of participating learners where it has been implemented.”
Eloïs Lack, one of the directors of Literacy for Life, explains that children will be at a greater advantage when they are in Grade 1 if they have had exposure to a pre-writing and numeracy programme that helps to develop visual discrimination, gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination, body image and muscle memory.
“They need to be taught such skills as the correct pencil grip, how to form the letters, the starting point of the letter or number shape and the direction of movement to create the letter and number,” she notes.
“We focus on helping small children in this foundation phase of their schooling with the enjoyment of tools that will enable them on their journey of learning how to read and write, and also their numeracy skills. We also focus on the creative processes of painting and drawing, which have their own role to play in a young child’s cognitive development.
“By giving small children access to tools and products that have been hand-picked with the creative and writing journey in mind, we are offering access to pre-writing programmes that will facilitate the later formal handwriting stage that begins in Grade 1. We supply specific products that are like a ‘first aid kit’ for handwriting learning, as well as stationery that is durable and affordable. Everything is designed with young children in mind to facilitate the provision of learning that is also entertaining and fun at the same time.”
Literacy for Life works closely with another non-profit organisation that is also involved in ECD learning, namely the Love Trust, which runs Nokuphila School in Thembisa for primary school children, as well as six ECD training centres around the country. These ECD training centres provide training for pre-primary schoolteachers in impoverished communities. The Love Trust is also the broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) partner of Exclusive Networks Africa.
“Literacy for Life has teamed up with the Love Trust to work hand-in-hand with the ECD teachers within its network,” explains Lack. “Through the Love Trust, we are able to ensure that our writing and numeracy aids reach the pre-primary school children – and their teachers – who are in such urgent need of this type of assistance. We work through sponsors, and rely on the support of corporate and personal investments. Without the support of corporate and social responsibility programme spending, we will not achieve our goals.”
By working through Literacy for Life, corporate sponsors are invited to adopt a school, with an annual commitment of CSI funding that will assist young children on their literacy and numeracy journeys. In turn, the sponsor will receive the necessary points and recognition for supporting an NPO.