Vukuzakhe in Phelezeni village, Nquthu municipality, opened its doors 30 years ago to care for children while their parents were working away from home in the cities, but lately the centre has been facing a number of issues with the building.

On rainy days the centre’s roof leaks through visible holes (below left), which affects attendance greatly. “Children do not want to come to the centre on or after the day it has rained because the carpet is wet,” says practitioner Gloria Motloung.

Vukuzakhe, which is home away from home to 64 children under five years of age, is plagued by criminal elements in the area that often break in and steal stuff from them. There is no running water on site, practitioners have to collect water from communal taps – that frequently run dry – and the river – where water is shared with animals and not purified. The centre also has very limited space. There are only two classrooms and they have to be shared by different age groups.

As one of the centres adopted into the SEIS programme and due to unrepairable infrastructure issues (above right) Vukuzakhe has been categorised as needing a complete infrastructure revamp.

It will receive three new classrooms. These have already been completed and will enable the centre to divide the different age groups into separate teaching areas that are more favourable for learning and help improve its low attendance rates. The extra space provided by the 30 sq mt classrooms will also allow the centre to accept nearly 30 more children.

Left: Vukuzakhe’s three new classrooms have been built and only still need windows and doors. Right: Some of the toilet facilities are near completion.

“Our centre is the pride of the community as it is the only early learning centre in the Phelezeni village and we are very grateful for the assistance from Assupol (which is funding the improvements in Umzinyathi) and look forward to welcoming more children.”

The new buildings will also be more secure. The centre will now have lockable doors, a lockable fence and high window designs that will help prevent criminals from entering the premises. The centre will also receive two 5 000L JoJo water storage tanks to ensure that there is enough water on site at all times.

As part of the renovations, Vukuzakhe will also have five new pour flush toilet facilities built – three that have been designed for use by children, one that accommodates handicapped children and one for adult use -, as well as a new jungle gym.

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