MYO hat sich vergrößert und verfügt nun über eine Vorschule

Nachdem Mondesa Youth Opportunities bereits über mehr als 12 Jahre hinweg wertvolle Arbeit geleistet hat, schien die Zeit reif, unser Kernprogramm, die Nachmittagsschule, um eine weitere Möglichkeit zu ergänzen, die Gemeinde zu unterstützten: durch eine Vorschule bzw. unser „Early Learning Centre“. Es ist bekannt, dass sich die Lernfähigkeit sowie Intelligenz eines Kindes in den ersten Lebensjahren entwickelt. Ohne eine frühe Unterstützung können daher viele Kinder niemals ihr volles Potential entfalten.

Am Ende dieser Seite finden Sie einen Nachweis (auf Englisch) mit weiteren Details über die Verbindung von frühkindlichem Lernen und der späteren akademischen Entwicklung.

2014 hatte MYO das Glück, einer deutschen Stiftung mit dem Namen „Little House of Hope“ vorgestellt zu werden. Bei unserem ersten Treffen, das einen Rundgang über das Gelände von MYO und eine umfassende Vorstellung unserer Arbeit enthielt, wurde beschlossen, MYO zu einem Standort der Vorschulen der Stiftung zu machen.

„Little House of Hope“ wurde 2007 von einem deutschen Ehepaar gegründet, das selbst erfahren hatte, wie viele Kinder in Namibia von Armut und Elend betroffen sind. Sie haben gesehen, wie AIDS und ein Mangel an Ausbildungsmöglichkeiten viele Kinder und ihre Eltern beeinflussen und beschlossen, etwas dagegen zu tun. Sie haben sich dazu entschieden, sich dem Wohlbefinden und der Entwicklung der verarmten Kinder zu widmen, wohl wissend, dass wahrer Fortschritt nur in Verbindung mit Bildung erzielt werden kann.

Mit diesem Versprechen kehrte das Paar nach Deutschland zurück und begann, ihre Freunde und Bekannten von dem Projekt zu überezeugen. Sie waren auf der Suche nach ähnlich gesinnten Menschen, die bereit waren, die Bevölkerung zu unterstützen.

„Little House of Hope“ hat mittlerweile einen engagierten Vorstand, der im Februar 2014 eine lebhafte Klasse von 20 jungen Vorschülern aus Mondesa und weiteren unterprivilegierten Gegenden Swakopmunds eröffnet hat. Mittlerweile ist das Programm erweitert worden und umschließt 75 Vorschüler.

Wir als MYO freuen uns sehr, „Little House of Hope“ auf unserem Gelände zu haben und fühlen uns geehrt, mit der „Little House of Hope“ Stiftung zu kooperieren.

Detaillierte Informationen über die Stiftung „Little House of Hope“:

Weitere Informationen

Der folgende Beitrag stammt von Dr. David Harrison, CEO des DG Murray Trusts, und beschäftigt sich mit der Frage, inwieweit frühkindliche Bildung die späteren akademischen Leistungen beeinflusst.

 Our motivation – „The amazing potential of young children“

Our DNA consists of just four building blocks, and they are combined in fantastic variety to make us who we are. Among a myriad of processes, these combinations – our genes – trigger the formation of the neural tube in the growing foetus, which ultimately becomes our brain and nervous system.

The brain develops precociously compared to other organs. In terms of weight, its peak rate of growth is in the third trimester of pregnancy and first three months of new-born life. During this period, the neural circuits required to sense and to think ‘wire together’ at connection points called synapses. Sensory neurons take the lead in wiring to each other and to other parts of the brain. Then language connections start to dominate, before higher cognitive functions – such as the ability to imagine and plan – kick in in a frenzy of wiring between specialised areas of the brain. The most intense synaptic activity is before one year of age!

These linkages are reinforced by the child’s interaction with her mother and father in an unconscious game of ‘serve and return’. The child ‘serves’ a volley of smiles; the parent ‘returns’ with eyes that light up , sounds that encourage and touch that comforts. In this simple environment – of sufficient food, love, security and stimulation – the child is primed to learn, and the brain grows in size and sophistication. By the time she goes to school, neural circuitry is well established and the brain is already 95% of its adult size. In fact, the rich experiences of the first six years of life over-stimulate the neural pathways and what follows is a process of pruning and reshaping.

But what happens when the simple triggers of food, love, security and stimulation are not there? Then the brain switches to survival mode. Fight-or-flight neurotransmitters are released that inhibit processes of learning and reasoning. When these conditions persist, stress becomes toxic and the child’s learning potential is seriously damaged. Worse still, this stress changes the very structure of the child’s genes, so that the tendency to cower rather than flourish becomes part of her DNA and, in time, that of her children and grandchildren.

Imagine each child as a tower of building blocks. We know that many won’t reach their full height. However, we generally fail to understand that most building blocks are missing from the bottom, not the top. The Nobel Laureate and Economics Professor, James Heckman, has shown that investments in pre-school learning produce the highest returns in terms of economic productivity. Yet, in South Africa, our spending on education is the inverse of where we would get the best results. As a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita enrolled, we spend most on tertiary education and least on early learning.

The answer doesn’t only lie in realigning public expenditure, but in growing the simple building blocks of food, love, security and stimulation. Surely these are things that can be provided to every young child in South Africa? You can start by reading to your own child from their first day of life – and to another child who might be missing out on the rich experiences that enable us to reach our full potential. Read a story to a child with a full stomach, and you’ll tick all the boxes for her growth and development, sparking connections that associate learning with love and security. Her sense of self-esteem and capacity to aspire will be enhanced. You’ll be putting in place the building blocks of learning and personal achievement.

 Two children with the same potential born in Cape Town

One child, Jemma, is born to a middle-class family in Claremont. The other child, Candice, is born to a poor family in Hanover Park. They have the same genetic potential. But already Jemma is on a completely different life trajectory to Candice, because of factors associated with poverty and pregnancy.

The differences may be difficult to demonstrate in Grade 1, but the gaps in intellectual capacity and performance widen over the years. That’s one of the reasons why four-fifths of Grade 6’s score below 40% on standardised assessments of numeracy, compared with only a half of Grade 3’s. It’s not that Grade 4 – 6 teachers are necessarily bad, but the effects of pre-existing deficiencies become starker. These children can mostly catch up, but full remediation is difficult and expensive. If Candice’s mother had someone to stand by her during pregnancy, provide basic toys and books to Candice soon after birth, found an early learning programme for her, and read to her regularly, the life trajectories of Jemma and Candice would be far closer. Jemma and Candice each represent about 35 000 babies in the Cape Town metropolitan area every year. If even half of the poorer babies could be supported by someone who ‘looked in on them’ regularly, the future of the City would be far brighter!

By Dr David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust

Dr David Harrison of the DG Murray Trust, right, is a dynamic supporter of Rotary International’s Literacy Outreach and is an active member of our District Literacy Committee. He delivered a stunning keynote address at the recent District 9350 Conference and these articles are extracts from his presentation.