The need for proper early childhood development infrastructure

Early childhood development (ECD) aims at developing kids from birth to nine years of age, mainly focused on cognitive, emotional, social and physical skills development. 

In this article, The Head of Human Capital, Israel Mqingwana, explains that early childhood development plays a crucial role in the formative years of a child’s life. It’s imperative that they have an environment that supports their emotional and physical development.

All efforts channelled towards early childhood development largely influence the lives of the kids under nine, and they play a significant role in how their future is mapped out. If the foundation is strong, the likelihood of kids having a quality future is extremely high.

Put simply, when you provide kids in this age group with quality child care, nutrition, healthcare, hygiene, education and social environments, the more likely it is that they will visualise a brighter future for themselves and work hard to achieve their goals. 

The challenges of early childhood development 

In South Africa, the disparities in early childhood development are palpable. They have proven to have negative impacts in various communities and the overall economy. Children who grow up in unsafe environments, which is the reality in most townships, struggle to become adults who receive opportunities to better their lives and those of the people in their communities. 

By not having access to opportunities, qualifications and experience will become future stumbling blocks; ones that are difficult to overcome. This instantly puts children at a disadvantage when compared to the kids with more fortunate childhood conditions.

The challenges for early childhood development start with infrastructure, particularly in the education area of development. This makes investment in this regard crucial and urgent. However, funding is one of the biggest education development challenges the country is most vulnerable to. In many townships, the state of the learning facilities for children is inapt for the learning obligations. The school infrastructure requirements in the disadvantaged South African schools include basic amenities such as electricity, water and sanitation, libraries, well-equipped learning classrooms and more.

How DBSA is supporting the educational needs of South Africa 

The Development Bank of Southern Africa has, over the years, played a significant role in financing large scale projects created specifically for the development of education infrastructure. The Bank’s work in education infrastructure has resulted in thousands of learners who have benefited from new and refurbished schools. Through our vastly diverse portfolio of lending operations, as well as project implementation and programme management support activities, we continue to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

We work hand in hand with the Department of Education and other development agencies on project financing aimed at building sanitation that is appropriate for education. This project, and others similar to it, will ensure that education infrastructure is properly planned, delivered and maintained in many previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

Final thoughts

The early years of a child’s life are important in developing his or her brain, and overall well-being. By creating favourable environments where they can learn cognitive and social skills through nurturing and education, kids stand a chance of reaching their full potential. 

At DBSA, we have a strong record in procuring funding and facilitating development infrastructure projects in schools across Southern Africa. While there’s notable progress on education infrastructure projects, there’s more work that needs to be done in the future. 

And, with the economy taking a hit due to the pandemic, we need to collectively think and act on different strategies, which will result in the development of early childhood infrastructure. This, in turn, will ensure that the future for kids is better than what we’ve seen in the past.