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Give kids the best start in life

UNICEF/South Africa/Pirozzi
© UNICEF/SouthAfrica/Pirozzi

Fact: For many children under five, early childhood care, education, health and nutrition – or lack of – can mean the difference between life and death.

Early Childhood Development

Giving each and every South African child the best start in life is UNICEF’s priority in making sure that children grow up to be productive members of society. This means ensuring that children are in good health, eat nutritiously, play, learn and are protected from abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

We work with the Government and civil society to develop early childhood development policies and programmes that create a foundation of support for children, their caregivers and the community.

Take Note

  • There are 5,2 million young children between the ages of birth and four, the age group that needs early childhood development services.
  • Only 16 per cent of young children are in formal early childhood education such as day care centres and pre-schools.
  • Parents, grandparents or extended family members look after the majority of young children who are not in formal day care centres.
  • The proportion of children aged 0–4 who are maternal orphans (have lost a mother) has increased, largely as a result of HIV and AIDS.

Take Action

UNICEF is working with the Departments of Social Development, Education and Health to develop early childhood programmes into community resources for poor and vulnerable young children and their families. Family facilitators conduct home visits to help families and children with their applications for social grants and birth certificates, provide health information and link families to healthcare services. A national parenting programme is in place to train parents and caregivers in key family practices such as infant feeding, child health, early stimulation, child development and child abuse prevention.

You Can Make A Difference

Our goal for 2010 is to expand our support to integrated early childhood development programmes at household and community level to reach the most vulnerable children and train and support parents and caregivers in parenting skills.

  • With a gift of R22, one child can be supported in an early childhood development programme per day.
  • With a gift of R100, UNICEF can help one parent complete a four-day parenting course.
  • A gift of R9,000 can provide basic equipment and materials for an early childhood development programme.
  • With a gift of R 2,800 per year, you can support an early child development centre to reach out to one family with poor and vulnerable children.
  • A gift of R15,000 can buy playground equipment for an ECD programme.

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