ECD Centre Owner: Victoria Maharaj (left) and her daughter Chantel Qobolo – headteacher and manager (featured in photos below)
Centre Name: Ouma-Vics Daycare & Pre-school
Location: President Park, Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa
Date: May 2021
Mother-Daugther ECD Centre adopts technology and business thinking
Ouma Vic’s Preschool and Grade R in Midrand, run by Victoria Maharaj and her daughter (headteacher and manager) Chantel Qobolo, started in 2009. “We’ve been going a long time without success,” says Victoria. “Working from hand to mouth. We started working with GROW Educare Centres in 2019 and it has been excellent. GROW is excellent. I have learnt how to run a successful business”.
“GROW made a huge difference,” she says. “The only way I can say it is that we took a 180 degree turn when we joined,” she says. “Our class settings, our curriculum, the way we do things, everything just changed to the best. GROW also gives training for the teachers, which helps a lot, our lesson planning and everything is on point. GROW makes our school better and our life easier.”
Using the GROW App and technology: It was difficult at first.
Victoria struggled with the GROW App at first but was fortunate to have her daughter to help her. “It was difficult at first – I was born before technology! Thank God for my daughter,” she says. “But now I can also use the app.”
“The GROW App helps me with lots of things, like finances. Every cent counts now I can see where it is going to go. I can do all that on the app. Even if I am in Pick ‘n Pay, I can take out my phone and record what I bought on the app immediately. I don’t have to worry if I lose the slip. We also take the teacher and learner register every day on the app. We do our assessments on the app, so we can see the children’s progress. We can see their improvement. Soon it will be easy for the parents to view their own child’s progress on the app,” says Victoria.
“The app also has teacher guides, with the daily lessons and the planner book. The teachers plan in advance now. So if a teacher is absent, it is easy to get a volunteer to step in as everything is just there,” she says.
Victoria recommends the GROW App to all ECD Centres
“I can recommend this GROW App to everyone. It will help any ECD school a lot. We’ve been running this business for ages and not going anywhere until now. It will improve their business financially and it will grow. It makes a huge difference. If more schools use this, it will make a difference to children in townships,” says Victoria.
Head Teacher is worried that other preschools are letting children down
Victoria’s daughter, who manages the school and is the head teacher, Chantal Qobolo, says, “In the community, most crèches just look after the kids, few actually teach the children. ECD is about developing children holistically. Meeting all their demands, emotionally and physically, so that they’re ready for school. This is the difference GROW made to our school.”
“In the beginning, we tried to teach the children, but we didn’t know where to get the resources. We were teaching but not following the child’s proper age-appropriate development,” says Chantal. “Now, we know how to teach according to the age group. How important things like puzzles are. We used to think they were just for playing, not for learning. Now we understand that those resources are good for teaching. Even with a dolly, we’d just give them the dolly and say ‘play’. Now we can use it to teach them, so they’re aware of their body. We have been taught how to use resources in the correct way.”
Chantal says, “We even advise the parents; we can tell them if their child is not ready for school. Before the parents would want to put the child into Grade 1 and we’d say ‘ok, go ahead’. This puts pressure on the child. Now have a reason to say no, we can tell them that their child is not properly developed for Grade 1. We do the right things for the children.”
GROW has helped me register my school
GROW has also helped Victoria register her school. “Thanks to GROW, our registration papers are in at the Department of Social Development (DSD) already,” says Victory. “We’ve been struggling with that for how many years. The DSD doesn’t come to your centre, you must go there and they just push you out by asking for more forms. Hence I’m saying a lot of progress has been made with GROW.
“If we get registered with DSD my teachers are going to benefit with a higher salary, and the children will benefit. The business itself will be easier to run as we’ll be getting money from the department, which with the school fees money, we can do all sorts of things to make our school better for the children. It’ll be a huge help,” she says.
Advice to others: run your ECD like a business
“I’d tell anyone starting out now that they must run their ECD like a business. Know that the money you’re getting is not for you, it’s for the business if you want your business to grow. Take your business seriously,” says Victoria. “We have learnt this.”
Advice to others: threat the children like gold
Chantal says, “My advice to anyone starting out would be to take care of the children like they’re gold, if anything happens to them your business is gone. Hold those children like gold. You must have patience and a passion for children, you need to have the love for children.”