As we know children are extraordinarily disadvantaged in this country and the Northern Cape is no exception. This is largely as a result of past policies and of a substantively unequal society. The lives of disadvantaged children are characterised by a denial of basic needs including a health care and education, which are vital to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development of children. These are the underlying principles as to why Droogfontein Solar Power initiated a thorough early childhood development (ECD) study in the Frances Baard District, Northern Cape Province.
“Our investments in the local communities are substantial, especially when considering that we are committed to social economic development programmes during our 20-years of operations,” said Marion Green-Thompson, Economic Development Manager for Droogfontein Solar Power. She continued, “We would like to get it right from the onset and not base our SED programmes on assumptions; and for this reason we have invested in research studies that will allow us to design our interventions on facts”.
Stakeholders and ECD centres were identified through consultation with the Northern Cape Education and Social Development Departments. Structured, qualitative interviews were conducted with key stakeholders with regard to ECD centres. A total of 22 detailed interviews were conducted with 15 ECD centres, in addition to this interviews with done with NPO’s, the Provincial Department of Education; the South African Police Services; the ETDP SETA provincial office; the Frances Baard Municipal offices and the Provincial Department of Social Development.
The report conducted by the Centre for Early Childhood Development, concluded that the provision of further ECD programmes in the Frances Baard Municipality is fundamental to socio and economic prosperity in the area. Additional programmes will also assist in the advancement of child rights and eliminating inequality. Investment in the development, care and protection of children needs to be a priority in order to ensure that communities can be further developed.
De Aar Solar Power has also commissioned an ECD study to ascertain the requirements in the communities close to the Project. Findings will be used to develop ECD programmes that will be funded by these two solar power projects and to ensure that the investments made through the initiatives have a substantial impact on children in these vicinities. “We have an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of 1000’s of children and in essence positively impact on a generation of young people,” concluded Green-Thompson.