August 2021.

Working to address one of the Northern Cape Province’s biggest challenges to education outcomes, De Aar Solar Power began implementing a comprehensive and far-reaching Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme in 2014, designed to bridge the gaps in the rural communities of Philipstown, Britstown, Hanover and De Aar. Taking a long term view, nineteen centres of development and learning across the region are incorporated, with the programme tackling infrastructure improvements; provision of educational resources; practitioner bursaries and training; as well as CV-19 support.

Chardene Banthom (34), a mother of three, and a Grade R Teacher at St. John’s Primary School, in De Aar, is one of a cohort of direct beneficiaries of the programme’s bursary fund. She graduated with a Grade R Teaching Diploma, from North West University in 2020, with support and funding from De Aar Solar Power, in partnership with the Department of Education.

Banthom is a truly inspiring person, who has viewed her Grade R Teaching Diploma as one of the steps in achieving her life vision. “I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate. I still remember the day we went to the campus and we received letters announcing the bursary funding. Once I received my Grade R Teaching Diploma results I immediately applied for my Bachelor of Education Foundation Phase Degree, which I am now studying part-time towards while working. I feel so overwhelmed by the opportunities that are being presented to me,” she explained.

Many of the teachers and ECD Practitioners on the programme, have reported the positive impact on children who receive input from formally trained and qualified teachers. This concurs with De Aar Solar Power’s efforts to help address the quality of ECD Practitioners in the region, through its bursary programme.

“We are committed to making a difference and would like to ultimately witness learners, within the communities that we support, achieving their full potential with the help of quality ECD support from qualified Practitioners and Teachers,” said Anita Takor, Community Liaison Officer at De Aar Solar Power, who provided this funding as part of their Socio-Economic Development Programme that includes benefits for ECD centres.

Looking at other parts of the programme, Takor explains that the programme is currently supporting a group of three ECD centres with outdoor material, renovations and repairs, namely Imizamo Yethu, in Philipstown; Philipvale, in Philipstown; and Masifundisane, in Britstown.

“We also have management committee training planned to take place later this year, for four ECD centres, as well as assistance with their Health and Safety compliance,” added Takor.

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