ECD teacher internship is creating new futures
YES (the Youth Employment Service) is a collaborative South African economic enabler that acts as an “engine of jobs creation”. Under the YES programme businesses create one-year paid internship positions for unemployed youth aged between 18 and 35 with a minimum paid stipend, all with the aim of providing high-quality work-experience, continued professional development and highly employable youth. The result: improved youth employability and bolstered business economic activity.
30 Teachers Interns GROWing in Cape Town
This year 30 qualified ECD (Early Childhood Development) teachers are receiving in-depth teacher training and professional work experience at GROW Educare Centres in Cape Town, all thanks to a collaborative partnership between YES for Youth, Inyosi, GROW Educare Centres and funding from Nestlé. These teacher interns are already picking the fruits of their labour and adding significant value to the ECD centres where they are working.
“A good early learning programme and fantastic equipment alone cannot address the crisis in the country’s early childhood development sector: the challenge requires resources matched to dedicated and trained teachers, and the YES teacher internship programme forms an essential part of the solution,” says Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW Educare Centres. GROW Educare Centres (a non-profit organisation) provides women living in disadvantaged communities the opportunity to run excellent, private, fee-paying early learning centres that are also viable businesses using the principles of social-franchising. They currently have 29 centres in operation across Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
Real-life stories, real-life dreams
Faranaaz Leggett (30), is from Strand and says that “I don’t have any children of my own, but I always had a passion for teaching children. At school, I felt like I wasn’t getting any breaks to help me study further to become a teacher. So, I started working as a tea lady and thought this would be my life.”
Singatwa Sam (30) is a mother of 2 from Site C in Khayelitsha has an ECD level 4 qualification but struggled to find work. “I started volunteering at a local ECD centre to gain experience. I loved it – working with children was so much fun. My dream was to complete my level 5 ECD training, but due to financial pressures, I simply could not afford it. I sent my CV everywhere. I found no jobs! I was very worried and started feeling desperate. Despite my qualification, I could not find a job.”
An ECD teacher internship opportunity
Many young people can relate to Faranaaz and Sam’s story. Unemployment in South Africa stands at 27,6% 1 with 31% 2 of young graduates (between 15-25), despite their qualifications, struggling to find work. This is often as a result of a lack of relevant work experience and a proven track record.
Faranaaz finally got the break she was looking for, thanks to guidance from her pastor. In 2016 she started studying for her level 4 ECD qualification. At the same time, she volunteered at a local ECD centre to start building up work experience. “One day, I saw a post on social media: an opportunity for an ECD internship at GROW Educare Centres. I knew this internship was for me!” says Faranaaz, confidently.
Singatwa says that the internship has helped her gain valuable experience, taught her new skills, encouraged her, and re-confirmed her career path within ECD.
“Our internship sets teachers up for success: we provide them with continued professional development one day a week, and practical in-classroom experience four days a week,” says Tracey. The GROW internship programme includes two distinguishing features. Firstly, interns receive on-the-job mentoring by a trained education mentor. An important aspect to the mentoring includes personal reflection journals and monthly reports from the head-teacher assigned to the interns in the centres. This allows the interns to evaluate their progress and receive valuable feedback. The second important feature of the GROW internship programme is the weekly training programme. The interns receive a structured programme of training modules which includes personal development themes such as parenting skills, managing stress and trauma, as well as professional development themes which include learner assessments, emergent literacy and numeracy, and personal financial management modules.
YES internships create unexpected double-wins
Through the process, GROW has helped each intern to identify their professional career path and future career goals. These paths include application at current GROW centres for employment or further academic studies in particular fields such as special-needs. For Faranaaz, the plan is clear,” After this internship, I want to do my level 5 ECD qualification and open my own educare centre, possibly in Strand or Gordon’s Bay area.” Singatwa has already applied for Level 5 ECD training at several colleges and plans to work while studying.
Thanks to the YES internship opportunity, these young people are unlocking and channelling their passion, going the extra mile, all for benefit of the children in their care and their future.
“The internship has challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, literally and figuratively. I am more focussed, better equipped, and ready to build my career in ECD,” says Faranaaz.
It is not only the interns that have benefited from the initiative. GROW Educare Centres has benefitted tremendously from the internship programme. The child to teacher ratio has increased in each centre; it has allowed us to provide additional training for existing ECD centre teachers during the work week without compromising on child-teacher ratios and quality of education, and most crucially the children at each centre have benefitted.
Words of wisdom from YES for Youth Teacher Interns
From worried to confident, Singatwa shares practical wisdom with unemployed women, “Go out and study. Invest in yourself. Start doing something, even if you work for free to gain experience. Nothing comes to if you don’t take action.”
The Future of the GROW/YES Internship Program
GROW Educare Centres is ready to expand their internship programme to KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, and require funding for 60 interns before November 2019.
Tracey says that “This year’s internship programme will deliver 30 excellent teachers into the under-resourced ECD sector by the end of 2019. Our goal is to expand this to 60 interns in 2020. This would mean national coverage of our GROW centres. The internship model has the potential to significantly impact the quality of education in our centres while introducing a cohort of trained and qualified teachers annually into the ECD sector thereby addressing the Sustainable Development Goal of quality education.”
If your company would like to sponsor ECD Teacher interns through the YES Youth Employment Service programme, while also securing significant benefits to your BB-EEE scorecard, please contact Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW Educare Centre, on +27 83 253 3538 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.growecd.org.za.