All children on track by Grade 4

Give every child the benefit of
early childhood development

International evidence shows that sufficient investment in early childhood development (ECD) can significantly improve national educational, health, social and economic outcomes. This is the time when the building blocks for one’s entire life course are being laid down, and the rate of physical and mental development is at its highest. Without this solid foundation, children start to fall behind and additional investment is then needed to help them catch up.

We know that children are imbued with potential, but for most of South Africa’s children – more than 60% of whom are multi-dimensionally poor – this potential is constrained by a constellation of social, psychological, economic and political factors. They are stuck in a cycle of poverty that limits social mobility. The first five years of a child’s life lay the groundwork for their lifelong development – a crucial period where access to early learning, good nutrition, care and safety can set a child on a pathway of compounding positive effects as they enter school and beyond.

Investment in young children may be the single greatest opportunity to escape the inequality trap.

We invest in programmes that seek to scale access to quality early learning and prioritise the public demand for early learning. This is done through advocacy and stakeholder engagement; unlocking opportunities for increased government financing; supporting innovations that improve access to data and support data-driven decision-making. Working with coalition partners (including funders, academics, NGOs, training organisations, implementers and corporate allies), we aim to formalise an ECD agency within a public-private partnership that will focus on increased coordination and leadership across the sector.

Our support for programmes aims to strengthen socio-economic networks in the informal sector (e.g. childminder and early learning sites that do not yet receive state subsidies) and strengthen their interface with the government to ensure progressive formalisation, quality assurance and financing.

What we are working on…

  • Ensuring that all children in quintiles 1–3 have access to quality early learning.
  • Increasing prioritisation and demand for early learning.
  • Driving sector-wide coordination and leadership.
  • Supporting systems innovation that enables the roll-out of quality early learning programmes (ELPs).
  • Unlocking public financing for early childhood development.

SmartStarter in training, Noluvuyo Wesi, attending a SmartStart training session in Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape (May, 2018).

Escaping the inequality trap requires a twist in our thinking.

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Flagship projects addressing this opportunity

Civil society projects addressing this opportunity

These projects are by no means a comprehensive list of the work of civil society. This list represents a small selection of organisations that will be updated from time to time

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Helpful resources related to this opportunity

Opportunities to escape the inequality trap