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South Africa: Feature – Wonderland Day Care Centre Gets a Healthy Boost
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Friday, June 14, 2013
Country: South Africa
Created: Jun 14, 2013

“It is very important for day care centre owners to work in partnership with the government because if we didn’t come forward, we wouldn’t be getting this assistance. It also helps to ensure that we run the centre according to the norms and standards required. Our curriculum also corresponds with what other kids are being taught in Grade R public schools,” said Mashinini.
Wonderland is among the 1 089 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres funded by the Gauteng Department of Social Development. The department plans to increase the number of funded ECD centres to 1 221, which will provide access to about 73 508 children.
On Monday, Deputy Health Minister, Gwen Ramokgopa visited some of the ECD centres in Ekurhuleni Municipality with an aim to assess their state with respect to health promotion, disease prevention and optimal child development.
The initiative was part of the activities lined up for observing the International Children’s Day focusing on children in a bid to shape their childhood survival.
Ramokgopa explained that the department has decided to dedicate the month of June to children, especially those who go to crèches.
“We are concerned of the risks of diarrhoeal diseases so we check the kitchen, norms and standards of environmental health and occupational health and safety. We are also teaching the care givers about the road to health chart which is a very good tool to assess children at risk before they become very sick or before they get complications.
“The first 1000 days from conception are very critical for the development of the child but we must also remember that it’s the time when the brain capacity for children is optimal and we don’t want to miss an opportunity for any child.
“We call on communities to ensure that the crèches they use are registered, they have certificate of the local government, certificate of social development and certificate of health, if they don’t have, help them as parents to get these certificates because they must be compliant,” said Ramokgopa.
During the visits to the care centres, Ramokgopa said she was happy with what they found as many children know that fruit and vegetables are healthy, adding that it was important [for the children] to take the messages home.
Health booklet
The department is currently distributing the new road to health booklet, which looks at immunization of the child and growth of the child. The new cards also look at a simple way of empowering care givers to show parents how to constitute diarrhoeal rehydration fluid.
“It simplified graphical presentation of monitoring of the development of the child, we encouraged mothers to get the copy from the nearest clinics and take children just for monitoring not to wait until they get sick,” Ramokgopa explained.
This year, the department is doing immunization mobile campaigns. The second round of the campaign will start in July.
Improving ECD centres
Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza highlighted that in contributing to quality basic education and the Millennium Development Goals, the department’s on-going mandate is to improve ECD by providing access to ECD services to children aged 0-5 years.
Mayathula-Khoza noted that Census 2011 reveald a 38.6% increase in the number of children in this age group living in Gauteng. This is largely as a result of the rapid urbanisation that the province is experiencing.
“In an effort to eradicate child poverty and respond to the issue of nutrition, which is critical within the first 1 000 days of every child’s development, the per capita subsidy per child will be increased from R13 to R15 per child per attendance in the 2013-2014 financial year.
“A standardised nutritional menu will be implemented in some of the crèches from 1 November 2013, occupational health and safety training has started in 250 crèches throughout the province, fireballs, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire blankets and evacuation plans will be provided to further ensure the safety of our children,” she said.
In complementing and strengthening the curriculum within ECD service delivery, Mayathula-khoza announced that the department has embarked on a project to supply the centres with child-friendly standardised computer programmes.
“In line with this initiative and the national Department of Communications’ strategy to implement information technology and communication (ITC) programmes at ECD centres, we plan to distribute about 1 000 child-friendly computers before the end of the current financial year. This will enable the children to learn new concepts on their own.”
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