“I am so honoured. My hard work and passion to see children gaining enough knowledge at an early stage have borne fruit,” said Mabena, who teaches more than 200 children at Ithemba Crèche and has been teaching for 10 years.
ABSA Regional Executive Happy Ralinala said a good education began at the foundation phase.
“Children must be exposed to this educational environment that nurtures their social, emotional and cognitive skills so that they can become better and productive citizens of the future,” said Ralinala.
She said it was good to recognise teachers who did everything in their power to meet the basic needs of a child.
Acting head of the provincial Department of Health and Social Development, Niggi Mlangeni, said the department was funding 697 community-based ECD centres at a rate of R12 per child per month.
She said the rate would be increased to R15 per child in the next financial year.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga had also made a commitment to build 10 ECD centres in Mpumalanga through the National Development Agency.
Mlangeni said the awards should serve as an encouragement for teachers and owners to continue to strive for the best.
The runner-ups walked away with certificates and educational toys, while the winners will represent Mpumalanga nationally next year on a date that is yet to be set.
One of South Africa’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to achieve universal primary education.
Although indicators for this MDG Goal 2 do not include children in the 0-4 age group, ECD is widely believed to provide a firm foundation for life-long learning, which is a key element of a dynamic, literate and knowledge based society.
According to the Department of Social Development, by March 2011, there were 19 000 registered ECD centres in South Africa, with 790 000 children benefitting from ECD services.
Some 720 000 of these children are directly subsidised by the State.