The first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most important. Getting quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) is the best way to invest in the future of our nation. The stimulation that occurs in the first 5 years of a child’s life lays the mental foundation for the rest of their lives. Children with access to quality ECD are more likely to complete school, which means they are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS and more likely to get a job or go on to university.


Yet in South Africa, only 1 in 5 children attends a formal crèche or preschool.


Because of this, iThemba is partnering with teachers and parents in Mpumuza to create a sustainable system of ECD in this community. Through site-based and home-based interventions, as well as adding to the number of quality ECD centres in the community, iThemba hopes to saturate this area through every stream of influence so that the majority of children have access to quality ECD. By having intentional, concentrated focus, we hope to energize the parents and teachers in this community to spread a culture that values ECD, and build a network of self-supporting ECD practitioners. Supporting this ECD work is our goal to develop sustainable nutrition through food gardens, and our Life Skills classes,  which give teens the tools they need to make successful life choices.

Our programmes are designed with
the purpose of encouraging, empowering,
and building hope that change will happen within their lifetime.

Creating a Sustainable ECD System

Site-Based (Asidlale Programme)

The Asidlale (“Let’s Play”) programme involves partnering with existing crèche (day care) teachers in the community and providing curriculum, training, one-on-one support and mentoring. Skilled ECD practitioners mentor teachers weekly, and through an incentive-based programme, teachers can purchase classroom resources of their own choosing. We also facilitate workshops 8 times a year, as well as Hlanganani (“Come Together”) Teas, where teachers in Sweetwaters share classroom advice and resources with each other. This is important for creating a sustainable community. Our annual assessments of children starting Grade R show that children coming from crèches where teachers participate in the Asidlale programme are better prepared for school than their peers.


Interested in learning more about how we started Asidlale? View a 5-minute photo story here.

Home-Based (ECHS: Early Childhood Home Stimulation)

Our ECHS programme involves partnering with parents/caregivers in order to help them understand the importance of ECD, and equip them in interacting with their children at home. Parents participate in parent-child play groups, where they interact with their children, get support from other parents, and learn a bit about child development. They also have the opportunity to make home-made educational resources, as well as borrow toys from the toy-lending library. Community mentors make home visits during the week to see how parents are implementing what they have learned. This intervention is critical for the many children who do not attend any crèche.


Want to learn more about how empowering parents to play is part of our ECD strategy? View a 5 minute photo story by clicking here.

Developing ECD Centres of Excellence (iThemba Preschool)

There are not enough crèches/preschools in Mpumuza for the number of children in the community. Many families would like to send their children to crèche, but live too far away. iThemba was given a piece of land by the traditional authorities in Sweetwaters to build a community centre, and the authorities asked that our first goal be to build a preschool for the area. The preschool opened on August 3rd, 2015. Currently there is capacity for 30 students, with plans to expand up to 70. The goal for this preschool is to become an ECD centre of excellence: a place where we can host training workshops and Hlanganani Teas, as well as be a resource room for local teachers, and a place where they can experience quality ECD in action. We also are partnering with local businesses and foundations to assist in building (or expanding) crèches in other parts of Sweetwaters.

© 2017 iThemba Projects

Phone:    +27 (0)31 0200 200


Physical Address:    8 Pin Oak Avenue, Hilton, Unit 07,

                             Pin Oak Park, KwaZulu-Natal,  3245 South Africa   //


Postal Address:    Box 765, Hilton, 3245 South Africa