Alasdair and Marjan Ritchie recently attended the retirement of Winnie Tsotso at Masi Educare in Masiphumelele. Masi Educare is a pre-school located in the historic former farm house at the heart of the township. Winnie herself has a long history in the local community having been the principal at the pre-school for over 35 years. She has certainly earned her chance to relax after her years of service to the youngsters of Masiphumelele.
Winnie is pictured here (in orange) at her retirement party with local councillors Mzuvukile Nikelo, Doreen Zaniwe and Felicity Purchase.
As one principal exits another arrives and Thandiswa Mguga will take over Winnie’s role at the pre-school, at least on a temporary basis pending advertisement for the post. While thanking Winnie for her work, Alasdair and Marjan also took the time to get to know Thandiswa and discuss how Masicorp can help take Masi Educare forward. Thandiswa does not yet have the necessary qualifications in terms of the Department of Social Development requirements, hence this will be one of the first issues for Masicorp to tackle.
Pre-schools form the central part of South Africa’s early childhood development (ECD) services. The government provides a subsidy for each child attending a centre, as long as the centre is formally registered. Despite an increase in the number of subsidies to ECD centres, still only a third of young children are exposed to formal child care or education outside of the home. Among the poorest 40% of the population, that proportion drops to one fifth nationally. Not only do ECD centres provide a crucial early learning experience for children under five but they also provide a safe location for children whose parents may both have to work during the day.
The key to making Masi Educare sustainable in the long term is for the pre-school to become registered with the state and receive a subsidy for each student. This means building work to meet safety and fire prevention standards, meals for the children and formal childcare training for the staff. With Masicorp’s help these challenges will be met and hopefully we will be celebrating many more retirement parties in the future.