Amidst an atmosphere filled with anticipation and pride, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Early Care Foundation were delighted to conclude the instructive and inspiring Early Childhood Development (ECD) forum skills development programme and host a graduation ceremony. For the cohort of 26 participants along with their greater ECD forum members, Tuesday the 11th of July 2023, marked a momentous occasion.
Apart from the cohort of graduates and their ECD forum members, those that attended included the First Lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe - who is the patron of the Early Care Foundation -; Ipeleng Mohlala, CEO of the Early Care Foundation; keynote speaker, Mr Rex Motheo, chairperson of the National ECD Intersectoral Forum; as well as Acting CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Professor Verne Harris, and other friends of the Nelson Mandela Foundation including board members of the Early Care Foundation.
From the outset, the ECD Leadership Skills Development Programme aimed to enhance and strengthen the already critical role played by ECD Forums which serve as beacons of hope in their respective communities. The various contributions from the speakers echoed this. Ipeleng Mohlala shared some of the feedback she received from participants while conducting support visits. She noted that there was an increase in ECD member attendance at meetings, strengthened compliance around the forum’s policies, a clear articulation of roles and responsibilities of members and a budding culture of mutual accountability.
Keynote speaker, Rex Motheo, spoke about the importance of the large leadership vacuum we are faced with on a national and local level and that programmes such as this one fill a gap that is fundamental in changing the trajectory of the society and that of the ECD landscape. In his opening remarks, Professor Verne Harris highlighted the great honour it was to be in the presence of such profound changemakers who are “doing the work” that will fundamentally change the state in which we find ourselves as a country.
Sumaya Hendricks, Head of the Dialogue and Advocacy unit at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, also gave some remarks and announced the winners of the ECD Forum Leadership Awards, based on grassroots intervention proposals from ECD Forums that will enable them to implement the learnings they gained from the programme.
The participants unanimously shared that the programme provided them with a valuable opportunity for deep reflection on the role of ECD forums in advancing the provision of quality ECD services within their communities. Some participants expressed that they now feel equipped with the tools to establish more formalized structures and generate ideas for fundraising initiatives for their respective centres and forums. In the coming months, the course content will be made open source, allowing the rest of the ECD sector to engage with it. The Nelson Mandela Foundation, in collaboration with the Early Care Foundation, eagerly anticipates the transformative impact of the programme on the ECD Forum landscape.