May 2023.

The recently renovated Helen Joseph ECD Centre in Galeshewe, means that the lives of the many young children, who attend the small community centre daily, are happier, brighter and safer.

“This small crèche was unfortunately victim to a spate of break-ins in 2020, and coupled with a lack of funding to manage general upkeep and maintenance, the centre unfortunately fell into disrepair. As reported in the local press at the time, important educational resources were also stolen, adding further financial strain. Sadly, this coincided with funding from the Department of Social Development ceasing, which exacerbated the centre’s struggles that included inadequate water supply,” explained Zuki Ndlela, Economic Development Specialist at Droogfontein Solar Power.

Funding from Droogfontein Solar Power has provided strengthened security for the Centre in the form of an alarm system and CCTV camera infrastructure, as well as renovations, wear and tear updates such as painting, tiling, repairs to doors and windows, and the installation of rainwater harvesting tanks to address the inadequate supply of water.

The renovation of this ECD centre, that cares for around 80 children from the Galeshewe community, forms part of the solar project’s Socio-Economic Development Programme, which has a keen focus on Early Childhood Development.

The need for this ECD’s infrastructure renovation was identified through a thorough needs analysis of the ECD facilities in the community areas of Riverton, Ritchie, Barkly West and Kimberley, commissioned by the solar plant, to ensure that its economic development programme was well informed and met the needs of its beneficiary communities.“Our priority is to create access to quality ECD in communities and assist with ECD centre compliance. We strive to ensure that ECD centres are not just day-care facilities, but centres of learning and development that are able to provide the best possible care,” added Ndlela.

The commitment to funding Early Childhood Development Programmes is part of the solar farm’s partnership and support of the Department of Education, which also includes funding for ECD practitioners from Riverton, Ritchie, Barkly West and Kimberley to upgrade their skills and qualifications. In addition, ECD centre managers receive management and mentorship support, and ECD centres are renovated and refurbished according to needs analysis reports.