Step-by-step programme help builds quality ECD centres across South Africa

GROW Educare Centres works with Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres in low-income and developing communities across the country. “Our mission is to help preschools provide quality early education to children while also helping the ECDs become sustainable small businesses,” says Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW Educare Centres. “Through our five-step programme we help ECD centres on their journey towards high-quality education and business sustainability at their own pace.”

Preschools that have embraced the programme have seen vast improvements in their schools in a short space of time.  

The first step in the GROW Educare Centres programme is free.

Any centre in South Africa may apply to use the ECD management app at no cost. The App provides administration and compliance tools, business development resources and data-free online training.

Step two is where centres start investing in the quality of the education in their classrooms.

Schools get a detailed, step-by-step daily curriculum; all the educational classroom resources (toys and equipment) they need; advanced, practical teacher training online and in face-to-face sessions; and professional education mentorship. GROW, in partnership with a registered financial service provider, assists schools to access affordable micro-loans to pay for the Quality Education Programme. This specially negotiated ECD finance is available specifically for ECD centres to make sure quality early learning is accessible and affordable for centres that want to invest in their early learning businesses.

In the past seven months, till April 2022, 14 schools have progressed to Step Two and are seeing the life-changing benefits in their children and their businesses. One such business is run by Busisiwe Gladness Kubheka, owner of Happy Feet Nursery and Day Care in Soweto. She says, “My advice to other ECD owners is that we are doing this for the kids. We must show them that your background does not determine who you are or will be. GROW is a programme that we need to embrace and use to provide quality education for the kids.”

How will GROW’s Quality Education Programme help you?

Get your children school-ready – Having a proven, quality education programme will help you get children ready for school and life!

Comply with registration requirements – Our programme is registered with the South African Government and aligned with the NCF.

Motivate and equip teachers – Equip teachers with training, resources and a daily programme that they will love.

Tough beginnings for Happy Feet Nursery School

Although her school is flourishing now, it wasn’t always like that. Busisiwe started her school when she couldn’t find a good day care centre in her area. “I kept changing day care centres. Eventually I found one far from my home. I had to wake my son up so early in morning to get him there before work. I thought that if I’m going through this, imagine how many mothers are also.”

She followed her vision and started a school in her area. “I wish I had found GROW earlier. I worked in corporate, I never had experience working at an ECD. Initially 90% of what I was doing was a challenge. I didn’t know what I was doing. We had no curriculum and no educational resources. We would buy things as we saw them and try to improvise. I did a lot of research but it wasn’t enough. I always felt like I didn’t achieve what I wanted to. I was lost. I was running around like head-less chicken,” she says.  

“I saw an advert for GROW on Facebook, they talked about mentorship and having their own curriculum. I emailed them on that same day. I went ahead with Step One (the free ECD management app) and Step Two (the Quality Education Programme). I wanted the direction, I needed the assistance, to know what I am doing and that I am doing it correctly for the children,” she says.

“GROW’s Education Programme is definitely value for money. I would recommend it to anyone. The image it gives to your ECD centre, the professionalism it portrays to parents and how it assists you as principal. I know everything that is going on now. I know that if I go to a certain class at 10am, this is what must be happening. I know at this age this child should be developing in this way. My teachers also know what they’re supposed to be doing. The kids are happier, they are learning through playing. They learn so much! With the GROW curriculum you touch every aspect which the kids relate to in their everyday life,” says Busisiwe.   

“I love the GROW app. I can use it anywhere, anytime, I don’t have to look for paperwork. If I’m not in, I can track if the kids and teachers are there, because my teachers can take attendance. The parents also love it. We have children that use transport to get here, or their older siblings are supposed to bring them, so parents like to check that their children have arrived. For divorced parents, the mom can see whether the dad has paid the fees. They see the learner assessments and updated reports, they see what their child has been scored and can add comments,” she says.  

“I want my ECD to offer five-star quality education. I want people to look at us and say ‘wow’. Not just by look of centre, but by what the kids achieve, the education, the safeness, the quality, and I am achieving this with GROW,” she says. Happy Feet Day Care now has 71 learners in four classes, with four teachers and a cook and two assistants.

GROW and the App will help all ECDs. They make things simple, it is good value for money and I will recommend it any ECD school.