Progression, a transformation driven organisation which manages and implements Skills Development and disability employment equity strategy solutions for corporate South Africa, has partnered with Siyakwazi, a KwaZulu Natal-based NPO which implements Early Childhood Development (ECD) education and support for children with special education needs (SEN) within rural communities.
“Progression is committed to transformation and inclusion at every level for all citizens of South Africa.” states Beth Cook, founder and CEO of Progression. “It was therefore critical for us to select a Social Economic Development (SED) partner that reflected these values.”
Siyakwazi aims to engage with children as early as possible, identifying the development of children from 0 – 7 years as a critical period. “It is often the case that learning disabilities and poor ECD support go hand in hand,” states Cathy Mather-Pike, founder and director of Siyakwazi.
Siyakwazi integrates their programmes into mainstream schools and crèches within the community, advocating inclusion and promoting disability awareness. The programmes include placing of Teaching Assistants within classrooms to help identify individuals with learning gaps and developing individual support plans, so that the children can develop at their own pace. In addition the programme also encourages parent involvement including home visits and facilitating parent-child one on one therapy.
Although ECD in South Africa is a priority and is supported by legislation, national policies and strategies, the fragmented nature of funding and service provision leaves schools and education facilities under-resourced and understaffed. “I believe that with the help of the private sector, we can address the gaps in our education system. Investing in projects which focus on the beginning of an individual’s education is a fundamental step towards alleviating poverty and assisting the nation’s most disadvantaged to become economically active.” explains Beth.
To date the funding provided by Progression has allowed Siyakwazi to expand its reach within the communities, growing both their SEN and ECD resources. “Not only has Progression contributed financially to Siyakwazi but our employees have committed to volunteering in a number of Siyakwazi’s initiatives. Progression believes that SED is not just about giving money, but giving back at a human level as well. This partnership is an excellent opportunity for Progression to further its transformation reach to sustainable empowerment,” says Beth.
The partnership with Siyakwazi will afford Progression’s clients the opportunity to invest in the project. “There are a number of resource needs which funding will contribute towards,” explains Beth. “Companies that invest in the Siyakwazi project will not only benefit from a B-BBEE perspective, but more importantly they’ll be investing in a long-term commitment to Transformation.”