Pre-schools get 5-star treatment

Johannesburg – A local non-profit social enterprise, Grow Educare Centres, is hoping to turn the status of early childhood development (ECD) centres in low-income areas around and have them operate like a fivestar businesses.

Grow Educare has launched an innovative programme called the 5 Steps to 5-Star ECD programme, a fully integrated mobile app suite that it says will equip the centres with the right tools to manage their performance and access essential training content.

Tracey Chambers, the CEO of Grow Educare Centres, said many of South Africa’s ECD centres operated in the shadows without certification, professional staff or the right resources required to educate and care for young children.

“Grow has a long history of operating high-quality ECD centres in the vulnerable and underserved communities. Now we are sharing our technology and expertise, systems and tools with early learning facilities across all communities to help build and shape the broader ECD sector for the better. This is our gift to the ECD sector.

“We have adapted our existing model to make it more accessible to a broader range of early learning centres. This digitally driven model is more cost-effective and scalable,” said Chambers.

She said that the ECD centres would get free access to the custom-built Grow apps for principals, teachers and parents.

“These apps help them manage their entire preschool from the palm of their hands. All functionality is included, together with generic online training and access to Grow resources such as policies, procedures, templates and forms.

“The principal/owner app boasts functionalities such as learner and staff attendance, income and expense trackers, professional learner assessments and reports, teacher assessments, parent communications portal and performance tracking against the five-star standards.

“The mobile technology is designed for Android devices, can work in offline mode and uses very little data.”

She said centres would also receive access to data-free online teacher training, consisting of 12 modules to support their professional development.

The disruptions of Covid-19 had also brought the country’s ECD ecosystem to a standstill, she said.

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