So, that’s a bit of a click bait title because the good news is not just about one self-proclaimed ‘Constantia school in Nyanga’ but about 21 high quality early childhood development  centres that are being launched or upgraded in under-resourced communities in Cape Town and Gauteng over the next two years.

We all know that the first five years of life are the most critical of all child development phases; with nutrition, care and opportunities for cognitive, physical, social and emotional learning laying the foundations for future adult behaviours and abilities. When kids miss out on important foundational buidling blocks, it can result in a lifetime of being disadvantaged. Worldwide, delivering quality ECD has been identified as a key strategy to break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequality. Backed up by research, this is why GROW with Educare and MySchool believe so strongly that education has the power to fundamentally change the future of South Africa. It’s also why MySchool has made their biggest commitment to a single project to date with funding of almost R5 million to GROW.

I was privileged to join the MySchool and GROW teams as they visited three schools in Philippi, Nyanga and Gugulethu last week to see what’s happening in these classrooms and wow, what a morning! It was so encouraging to see thriving schools with colourful, organised classrooms and safe opens spaces for unstructured free play. I saw teachers sitting on the floor reading to the kids on their level: I heard teachers asking the kids open ended questions; I saw messy play with paint, sand and water. I saw imaginary tea parties take place; I saw kids who enjoyed being at school. I saw inclusive schools where provision has been made for children with learning disabilities. And ultimately I saw a school that appears completely on par with my son’s preschool – the art on the walls looked the same as the art on his classroom’s walls and the toys in the toy corner looked exactly the same too. These kids even do Wriggle & Rhyme in the afternoons!

We built towers only to knock them down again.
It always makes me stoked to see young kids with a healthy self identity – this little guy used the right colour crayon to colour in the picture of his parents.
I think little lady on the left’s earrings were hurting her?
Outdoor play time with hula hoops. Turns out it’s easier said than done.
Most franchised schools all look similar inside and out, but this school already had some murals painted from before. Who can resist a pose with tweety bird?

GROW with Educare, is an incredible organisation based in Epping who walk alongside local community entrepreneurs to turn their existing schools into registered, independently franchised, well resourced and well run schools where kids have the opportunity to learn through play under the passionate supervision of qualified teachers. They’re bringing private school level ECD, as well as sustainable job creation, into communities where quality Educare is currently not accessible or affordable. With their ‘education-in-a-box’ and ‘business-in-a-box’ concepts GROW delivers a deep, ongoing relationship with each school principal through business coaching, educational training and mentoring as well as provision of educational resources on a termly basis.

They use a tool developed by the World Bank (the MELQO – Measuring Early Learning Quality Outcomes) to evaluate whether children in GROW schools are achieving internationally benchmarked milestones of development. So not only is their project sustainable, it is also scalable. Top class.

“Through the use of best practice principles such as social franchising, ongoing mentorship and both business and personal development, GROW with Educare is progressively helping the women who run Educare centres move from a place of dependence to dignity,” says Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW with Educare.

The school shelves all look like this one – well resourced and labelled.
Three cheers for classroom excellence!

To support GROW, add them as one of your MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet beneficiaries. If you don’t have a card, sign up for free at, download the App, call 0860 100 445 or get a card at your local Woolworths store. It’s quick and easy. Then nominate GROW as one of three possible beneficiaries so that when you make a purchase at Woolworths and swipe your card, a small percentage of your transaction is allocated and paid to your beneficiary.

*This post was sponsored by MySchool.

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