Early childhood development (ECD) is one of South Africa’s biggest challenges, with many education centres in disadvantaged communities not sufficiently equipped, trained, resourced, or professionally managed that little ones in their care receive a quality education critical to their future development.
Non-profit organisation GROW Educare Centres is helping ECD centres in low-income areas through social franchising partnerships and setting them up for success as sustainable businesses.
Early childhood development is the crucial phase of a child’s life between 0 and 5 years of age, when their brain is the most flexible and eager to learn. Of the nearly 8.2 million children aged 0-6 in South Africa, almost 46% live in low-income households, with about half of these children not attending any ECD facility.
GROW Educare aims to change this by growing its chain of early learning centres across the country.
Managing an ECD centre is a complex business and the GROW Educare Centres model invests in entrepreneurs/franchisees who already run creches, providing them with the tools, processes and support needed to deliver quality early learning for preschoolers aged 2-5.
“We care deeply about ensuring that children from underprivileged communities receive the best education in their most crucial years. We also understand that the only way quality can be maintained is if centres are financially sustainable, accessible, supportive of job creation and teachers are paid what they’re worth,” GROW Educare Centres CEO Tracey Chambers says.
“Our proven franchise model significantly improves the educational outcomes for children, and ensures each business owner can run a professional and financially viable business.”
With 44 centres nationwide, GROW is helping more than 1,720 children in 89 classrooms grow and learn daily, while supporting more than 220 jobs in education.
Jennifer Crossley, of Generations Educare Centre in Maitland, Cape Town, says her mission was to have the best ECD centre in her area.
“It all started when I took over as the new manager at the Generations Early Learning Centre. For me it felt like everything was just wrong, from administration, learning equipment and the education programme, to the general appearance and cleanliness of the centre,” she says.
We care deeply about ensuring that children from underprivileged communities receive the best education in their most crucial yearsTracey Chambers
As a qualified ECD teacher with years of teaching experience, Crossley knew she could make a difference, but confesses she felt frustrated and a little hopeless too.
Crossley was accepted to become a GROW Educare Centres franchisee and her centre was revamped, and high-quality and relevant learning equipment and material were delivered.
“It was the most exciting day for all of us. I was filled with hope when I saw the bright eyes of my little ones,” she says.
“The GROW Educare Centres team did not stop there. They assisted me and my teachers with training workshops, business and education mentoring, school visits and coaching, financial guidance, a great day-by-day education programme and so much more.
“My goal is now to have my own foundation phase school. I know it will take time, but with my partnership as a GROW franchisee, I believe it’s possible.”
Applications for new ECD franchises are open, with the deadline for applications extended to March 14.
For more information and to apply online, click here.