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Nozizwa Vundla | 25 May 2023

Changing the country's course requires much attention to the cognitive development of children.

A staggering 57% of SA children in early childhood development (ECD) are not on track for cognitive and/or physical development, according to the Thrive by Five Index.

To address this and provide a tangible impact that’ll help change the country’s course, Sanlam is targeting ECD through the new Sanlam Foundation Education Programme.

These efforts are rooted in the belief that every child has the right to the highest standard of education, no matter their socioeconomic background.

The programme will reach 1,403 pupils and 40 teachers across 20 ECD centres and 14 primary schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng. The programme will be scaled up and refined once Sanlam starts receiving monitoring and evaluation (M&E) data. It’s a commitment for the long term through a pipeline approach, from ECD to primary and secondary school.

In SA we have the three horsemen of the apocalypse — unemployment, inequality and poverty. It’s not just joblessness, it’s unemployability that plagues us. Young people don’t have the basics of numeracy and literacy needed to be employable or to run their own businesses.

About two-million children start grade R each year and only one-million matriculate. ECD interventions are instrumental in addressing this sustainably.

The Sanlam Foundation Education Programme

The programme partners with world-class implementation experts to foster strong foundational skills. This work is anchored by a theory of change and measurable outcomes that are regularly reported on so the programme is data-driven.

Nutrition: The Thrive by Five report found one in 18 children in South Africa has signs of long-term malnutrition. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are crucial, so we provide a nutritious and age-appropriate daily meal at all schools we work with.

Science, technology, engineering and maths: In a class of 20 children starting grade R, just eight are on track to start their formal education with the right foundation. We are focusing on teacher and principal training to ensure robust numeracy and literacy skills are embedded early.

Home language: Imagine learning foundational maths concepts in a language you don’t speak. The Sanlam programme focuses on home languages because children learn better in the language they know best.

Psycho-social support: Sanlam provides support to identify issues that may affect a child’s learning early — such as ADHD and dyslexia — and nurture the child with targeted interventions and additional care.

Robotics: We must ensure none of our children are left behind as we enter a new era.

We hope to share our knowledge and what we've learnt as the programme unfolds and to continue learning from others who run similar projects. Corporate social responsibility is an area that doesn't need competition. The Sanlam Foundation Education Programme is eager to work with corporates to tackle systemic issues in our education system.

The Sanlam Gauge showed corporates consistently over-index on spend in the socioeconomic development element of the B-BBEE scorecards. Sadly, there’s usually no real M&E on this spend, which makes it difficult to derive the impact of the initiatives. Imagine what we could achieve if we all adopt a targeted approach and work together as corporates to help resolve the ECD crisis in this country, with M&E at the centre of our efforts.

Having recently partnered with Business Day to launch the Sanlam ESG Barometer, the institution has placed greater focus on the “S” of the three pillars of sustainability: environment, social, governance. We want to empower all Africans to be financially confident and prosperous, and that begins with a strong educational start.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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