The Department Of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy programme has resulted in significant investment in small and geographically isolated communities. These communities, now leading the country’s technological leap into alternative energy generation were previously unknown to the average South African and in most cases, represent the least developed spaces in the country.
When surveyed, members of these communities have indicated that monies set aside for their social and enterprise development be directed at roads, transportation and housing- infrastructure requirements that are at the centre of service delivery protests across the country.
There is however an area that development and SED/ED officers of these projects need to look into more closely. A subject that is probably most important to the upliftment and long term change of these communities and is unlikely to appear as a requirement when surveyed. This is the important matter of early childhood development.
The most important phase of learning takes place in the first 1000 days of a child’s life, and if that opportunity is missed, the damage can never be undone. However, it is the least invested in by the department of education and corporate social programs largely focus on university scholarships which yield less of a return on investment than early childhood development. Communities need to be educated about these benefits as many have become shareholders of potentially profitable IPP’s and can will ultimately make the decision of where dividends are spent. “An initial study by neonatologist Hallam Hurt found that children living in poverty tended to have lower IQs; upon further probing, Hurt found that it was (obviously) not the poverty itself that determined the IQ but how much attention and stimulation the children received.”
The investment in ECD, both the physical infrastructure as well as the quality of care and education impacted, is perhaps the first step out of poverty and resolving the plight of struggling community economies. The discussion is deeper and the research more meaningful. This is only a plea to make it a strong consideration when looking at any form of community development spending.
For further reading, I encourage you to refer to this article:
By Palesa Mkhize
Palesa Mkhize is a director at KDI Holdings.
She writes in her personal capacity.
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