2023 Overview: Progress with Purpose
This year, each of our 12 programmes took it up a notch in their own way, pushing the limits to reach more children and improve the quality of our services.
One of KET’s main focuses was on data and how we could use it to better serve our beneficiaries. With the adoption of a new monitoring and evaluation system, funded by a Rotary International Global Grant, we now collect real time data on each team member’s daily services. This will greatly improve our reporting.
School Ready Children
The real measure of KET’s success is seeing children with the foundational skills to thrive. We ended 2023 with 169 Fonix literacy and 143 Numba numeracy kits in Knysna and Bitou beneficiary’s classrooms. These programmes give children the chance to develop essential skills in fun, engaging ways.
The Blocks for Growth (B4G) team operated in 26 ECD facilities, screening a record of 503 children and conducting therapy groups with 300 children who’s results indicated they were not on track to meet the milestones to thrive in Grade R. Led by our occupational therapists, the B4G team focused on increasing parent involvement by using the teachers as a conduit. A highlight of the year was improved retention of children once they joined therapy groups. This indicates that the work they are doing to help parents understand the importance of regular attendance is working.
Sadly, there are still thousands of children who do not have access to any ECD programme. A big reason for this is the lack of facilities in rural areas. Our SmartStart team has continued to expand its service area, reaching children in remote areas with little or no access to ECD. This year, the team worked with practitioners in Hoekwil, KleinKrantz and have recently investigated Beaufort West. While providing a safe space for children to learn, this programme also creates jobs for women in communities where they had few opportunities to earn a living. They upskill through regular training, giving them the chance to build a sustainable small business.
Qualified teachers in health & safety compliant facilities
As the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) works towards professionalising the ECD sector, it is important to encourage teachers to earn formal qualifications wherever possible. Earning accreditation for our Further Education and Training (FET) centre has been a milestone achievement in 2023. Now we wait for more information from the WCED on the future requirements for ECD practitioners so that we can assist them wherever possible.
In the mean time, we will continue with our monthly ECD Site Learning workshops. They have been well attended this year, following topics such as The Power of Play; Inclusivity and Grade R Baseline Assessment. We’ve had great feedback from these, with teachers asking for longer and more frequent sessions.
Another milestone in 2023 was that our registration portfolio expanded to include registration for after-care facilities. We welcomed a new team member who is dedicated to assisting every after-care facility in our service area apply for registration. This will ensure that children are safe during AND after school, aiding in sustainability of the facilities and setting them up as pillars within their communities.
Nutrition continues to be a concern in our communities, and in 2023 KET’s feeding scheme, funded by Le Creuset & The Rotary Club of Knysna, supported 294 children in 10 ECD facilities. On two occasions, we were able to rally support from you, our community, to help facilities who suddenly found themselves in desperate situations.
Reaching more children
Thanks to donors within our local community and abroad, the Adopt a Child’s Education (ACE) programme increased from supporting 190 children in January to 237 children in December. The increase in ACE bursaries has been largely thanks to the response at our Evening of Music event at the beginning of the year, Collette Vacations bus tour guests, and more recently The Rotary Club of Tarporley & District’s appeal within their community to sponsor 100 children’s fees.
The Learning Tree Model Preschool is also reaching more children, since the establishment of their 2-3 year old class. The class is at full capacity, with 22 children attending. Principal Julie hopes to open a 0-3 year old class in 2024, having recognised a need within the community.
From the KET team to each donor, supporter, volunteer and partner – we are grateful for your support and wish you a wonderful holiday and a happy new year.