Standard Bank, in partnership with the Early Learning Resource Unit (ELRU), a pioneer in the early childhood development (ECD) sector in South Africa, has unveiled the new ELRU e-Academy and Science called Childhood Development Academy, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math’s (STEAM) curriculum the first of their kind in the country’s ECD sector
With funding support from Standard Bank, ELRU, a non-profit organisation (NPO) that works in marginalised communities across the Western Cape, Northern Cape, and North West Provinces, has developed an online learning platform for ECD practitioners, principles and those wanting to enter the ECD sector. Anyone with a mobile device can access the ELRU Academy platform to learn, from anywhere, at any time, night, and day, or on one’s off days, to get their accredited ECD qualifications. Childhood Development Academy The platform is made affordable by its pay-as-you-learn structure. Zanele Shabalala, Standard Bank’s CSI Manager, says: “Standard Bank is proud to be part of this exciting venture. The ELRU e-Academy fits well with Standard Bank’s CSI strategy, which is focused on improving access to quality education and learning, especially from an early age. This means addressing the urgent need for a quality and educated ECD workforce, particularly in underserved communities.” Currently, a huge shortage of competent ECD teachers exists in South Africa. There are approximately 150 000 early learning practitioners but with government’s plans to scale up ECD, a workforce of over 350 000 practitioners will ultimately be required to fill the additional schools and classrooms. This increase will mean a heightened demand for training in the sector, and face-to-face training is unlikely to meet the need in the interim. The onset of COVID-19 has however revealed that digital platforms offer new ways of learning, which can provide a solution for addressing such shortages by making it more accessible and affordable to become empowered through education.
The ELRU e-Academy has two offerings (with additional qualifications currently being developed) that will support the building and capacitation of the ECD workforce. Both are significant for entry into ECD with the first at teacher qualification level and the second at leadership level: the National Qualifications Framework Level 4 and financial entrepreneurship New Venture Creation. Childhood Development Academy, The former will equip ECD practitioners with the essential skills to facilitate the holistic development of young children (including children with special needs) and offer quality ECD services and programmes in a variety of settings. Meanwhile, New Venture Creation is critical for ECD Principals to run stable Centres as SMMEs and provides a qualification for the growing small business sector that will assist budding entrepreneurs to become a more integral part of the mainstream economy. Tracy Fortune, Director of ELRU, says: “Courses offered by the ELRU Academy will not only lead to improved quality of early education of children in marginalised communities but will also make a significant difference in the lives of practitioners and ECD Principals – qualified ECD practitioners can open opportunities to advance studies, open Educare Centres/pre-schools, secure higher positions and grow in financial wealth and independence, which will ultimately add to a future of economic stability in South Africa.”
Source: This news is originally published by africa