The Early Learning Outcomes Measure (ELOM): What’s new?

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News0 Comments

In 2015, Ilifa Labantwana funded, through Innovation Edge, the development of an Early Learning Outcomes Measure for South Africa.  The measure – quickly dubbed the ELOM – was intended to provide all types of early learning programmes with a psychometric instrument for assessing their effectiveness. The ELOM would be: designed to assess children from all socio-economic backgrounds based on the Early Learning Development … Read More

When community works: Early learning playgroups in the North West

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, Lessons from the Field0 Comments


The  Early Learning Playgroup Programme is an innovative public-private partnership, which trains government-contracted community workers in rural areas to run early stimulation playgroups for children aged 3 -5.  The benefits for the children are access to a quality learning programme, where before there was none. For the community workers, the programme presents an opportunity to work with children and take … Read More

Bringing the Story Home: Early Literacy in the Free State

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, Lessons from the Field0 Comments

During October 2016, we visited the Community Work Programme participants who are implementing the Nal’ibali Early Literacy programme in ECD centres around the Free State.  For the children enrolled in these centres, the programme means access to an early literacy programme for the first time. Nal’ibali is part of an innovative partnership, which trains Community Workers to fill gaps in … Read More

New play-based teaching course for ECD practitioners

Svetlana DonevaBlog, ECD News0 Comments

There is a growing amount of evidence globally which supports that play is fundamental to learning in the first 1000 days of a child’s life.  For young children aged under 6, playing is a way to develop social and cognitive skills, as well as confidence. Incorporating play into an early learning curriculum, however, is not as easy as it may … Read More

Let’s all get along: notes on NGO and corporate partnerships

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News0 Comments

Relationships between corporates and NGOs are often fraught with misunderstanding; which is unsurprising, when one considers the differing motivations of the parties involved.  This interesting report on the subject, summarises it simply: most corporates enter partnerships with NGOs to improve their reputation and their credibility; NGOs enter partnerships with corporates to access funds.  Now, add vastly different operating styles, organisational … Read More

Policy Post: Does Parliament really understand the ECD policy?

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post0 Comments

Photo of parliament

On 6 September 2016, the Departments of Social Development (DSD) and Basic Education (DBE) made another presentation to the Basic Education Parliamentary Portfolio Committee. The minutes of the briefing and Q&A can be viewed here. The Departments noted that they, along with the Department of Health (DoH), were the primary duty-bearers, (supported by other departments as well as local government) … Read More

Sinovuyo Caring Families Project takes flight

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, News, Parenting0 Comments

Sinovuyo parenting workshop in Cape Town

It’s been just over three years since the Sinovuyo Caring Families Project was piloted with 68 families in Khayalitsha, Cape Town.  The programme, which recently completed a two year randomised control trial supported by Ilifa Labantwana, has attracted a great amount of international attention and is being implemented in Kenya, South Sudan, the DRC and the Philippines this year alone. … Read More

Progress in measuring outcomes from early learning

Svetlana DonevaBlog, ECD News6 Comments

Research indicates that while children from better-off homes make good progress following Grade R, children from poor households do not, and the gap between these two groups widens with age. Quality preschool programmes enable poor children to be ready to benefit from Grade R. However, South Africa lacks a reliable and valid instrument to assess how early learning programmes perform in preparing … Read More

SA’s first ECD centre registration helpdesk

Svetlana DonevaBlog, ECD News8 Comments

One of the biggest challenges for the thousands of ECD centres dotted around informal communities in South Africa, is registration with the Department of Social Development (DSD). The registration process is complex and lengthy; while the norms and standards that need to be met are often unattainable given how the resource requirements match up against the reality.  The end goal … Read More

We are hiring

Svetlana DonevaBlog, ECD News, News0 Comments

Ilifa Labantwana is looking for an Executive Director and an ECD Financing Director. The details are below. Interested? Please send your CV and a cover letter to before 30th June 2016.  

SA Budget 2016/17: ECD needs action, not just words

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post1 Comment

Many commentators have called Financed Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2016/17 National Budget the most difficult balancing act of the minister’s political career.  Minister Gordhan matched an overwhelming amount of demands against constrained resources – all within a fiscally depressed economic climate. Minister Gordhan’s budget maps out government’s plans for the next three years. Given the constraints, complexity and competing demands, the foundations … Read More

The DSD acts on household food and nutrition security

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post0 Comments

The national Department of Social Development this week published a Terms of Reference for the Appointment of a Service Provider for the Implementation of the Household Food and Nutrition Security Programme for 2015/16. The purpose of the TOR is “solicit proposals from NPOs to facilitate implementation of an integrated Household Food and Nutrition Security Programme for the Department of Social … Read More

How can we prioritise ECD expenditure?

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post0 Comments

The approval of a revised national ECD policy is, we are led to believe, imminent. Once Cabinet approves the policy, our hard work starts. As a country, we will have to increase our investment, in terms of both money, time, people and political buy-in; we will have to agree on a programme of action to translate the national ECD vision … Read More

Policy Post: The unrealised potential of the Road to Health

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post1 Comment

The ECD diagnostic review conducted in 2013 and the draft national ECD policy have drawn attention to the critical importance of providing support in the very earliest years for equalizing and securing the development of children to their full potential. At the same time, these two documents highlight that it is precisely young children in this age group, and notably … Read More

National ECD Centre Audit Released

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post1 Comment

The Department of Social Development (DSD) has issued the results of its national audit of ECD centres, conducted during 2013, which includes centres with conditional registration as well as unregistered centres. The audit serves the purpose of providing information on the nature and extent of ECD provisioning, services, resources and infrastructure across all nine provinces: in total 19 971 ECD centres … Read More

The Policy Post: Rounding up South Africa’s recent ECD policies and programmes

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, The Policy Post5 Comments

This week’s policy post provides a brief overview and update on the status of a number of recent policy, programme and research initiatives relevant to ECD in South Africa. At the centre is the national ECD policy and programme of action under the leadership of the Department of Social Development (DSD). However, there are a number of additional initiatives under … Read More

Nal’ibali: Learning through play and stories

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, Projects1 Comment

Nal’ibali travelled to North West province last week to offer our Storyplay training in Phokeng. The Nal’ibali Storyplay workshops are highly interactive and fun. We focus on experiential learning, as we integrate stories and play in an informally structured early literacy curriculum that the practitioners attending will themselves offer to children.  All the related talking, thinking and other activities center around … Read More

The Policy Post: Laying the Foundation for Effective Implementation of the ECD Policy

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, News, The Policy Post1 Comment

As famous as South Africa is for its good child rights policies; it is equally infamous for the weak implementation of those policies. The disjuncture between policy intent and actual outcomes is clear in child well-being returns which don’t match the size of investment of public resources in, for example, child health and education systems. The Draft National ECD Policy – what … Read More

UPSI-5 tool finds quarter of SA children face psychosocial problems

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, News0 Comments

The Dutch developed UPSI-5 has undergone an initial round of testing in South Africa and the findings indicate that it can be used as an advocacy aid to increase support to the psychosocial wellbeing of local children. The UPSI-5 is a diagnostic tool, developed by non-profit organization ICDI, which tests a child’s psychosocial functioning by means of 29 question checklist. … Read More

Hacking for ECD

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, Innovation Edge, News2 Comments

What happens when you place a group of computer programmers in the same room as a group of ECD professionals and ask them to brainstorm solutions for early learning challenges in South Africa? For a start, you get a lot of tweets. The first ever hackathon for ECD, which took place in Cape Town’s Bertha Centre during the last weekend … Read More

The “Ordinary Magic” of ECD

Svetlana DonevaBlog, Blogs, ECD News, News, Parenting0 Comments

Why do some children thrive in difficult circumstances, and others not? One of the most surprising findings from the many studies that have been done on levels of resilience in children is that resilience is not built through extraordinary interventions, but rather through ordinary, everyday quality interpersonal experiences. Referring to decades of research on resilience, Ann Masten, professor of child … Read More

Ilifa Labantwana’s Submission on the Draft National ECD Policy

Svetlana DonevaBlogs, ECD News, News

Ilifa has submitted a number of proposals to the South African Draft National ECD Policy, which was published in the Government Gazette (No. 38558) on 15th March 2015. The Draft ECD Policy is commended for recognising ECD as a public good and for the commitment of the Government of the Republic of South Africa towards building a national ECD system … Read More

Paving the Way to Quality ECD: We Need More ECD Practitioners

Svetlana DonevaBlogs, ECD News, News

Quality ECD services begin with trained and motivated practitioners. At the moment, skills supply is not meeting demand. In the Eastern Cape alone, the provincial development plan estimates that 30 000 caregivers and educators need to be trained to achieve universal access to ECD services by 2030 but existing colleges are ill-equipped to rise to the challenge. Where do we … Read More

Ilifa Labantwana’s Submission on the Review of the White Paper on Social Development

Svetlana DonevaECD News, News

The White Paper on Social Development, first published in 1997, provides the framework for the development of a social welfare system that can unlock the potential of every person in SA, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. The document is currently under review and Ilifa Labantwana has submitted its contribution to the process last week. Our key focus was to … Read More

ECD: South Africa’s answer to curbing violence?

Svetlana DonevaBlogs, ECD News, News

Policy frameworks which inform implementation around Early Childhood Development and violence prevention are not integrated – but they should be. That is one of the key findings of a report, by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) published in the SA Crime Quarterly (March 2015), which offers some interesting food for thought. South Africa’s crime statistics are shocking. Homicide takes … Read More

Urgent ECD Intervention Required in Africa

Svetlana DonevaECD News, News, Video

Africa stands to lose as much as 12% of GNP p.a. for the next 20-30 years if urgent child and mother nutrition needs are not addressed. GDMT CEO addressed the issue on CNBC Africa’s TV programme Open Exchange on World Health Day today. Source: More videos here

New innovation fund to catalyse change in early learning in South Africa

Svetlana DonevaECD News, News

Several national, including Ilifa Labantwana, and international donors have joined forces to establish a new fund to support innovations in early learning in South Africa.  The R15 million fund, called the Innovation Edge, aims to inspire and enable bold new initiatives with the potential to transform early learning access and quality. Details about the Innovation Edge [ HERE ] The … Read More

Investing in ECD: CSI that works

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Funding for social development initiatives is set to change after the results of a research study commissioned by the FirstRand Foundation was presented at the Foundation’s fifth “CSI that Works” breakfast. The study confirmed that investment in the first 1 000 days of a child, from conception until the age of two, is critical to ensure that interventions later in … Read More

Global Hand Washing Day – 15 October 2014

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Each year, diarrhea and pneumonia take away lives of 1.7 million children under the age of five. Washing hands with soap and water especially after using toilets and before handling food helps reduce disease infection by 40%.” The pictures in this document can be used by parents, home visitors, FCMs, child minders in ECD centres and community based ECD programmes … Read More

Ilifa Positive Parenting Dialogue

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Ilifa has partnered with the University of Cape Town and its collaborating partners to implement and test the Sinovuyo Caring Families Programme in the Western Cape. The Sinovuyo Caring Families Project focuses specially on the reduction of abuse and maltreatment of children in high-risk families in South Africa. The Positive Parenting Dialogue was held at the Belmont Conference Centre in … Read More

Responsive Parenting: a Strategy to Prevent Violence

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Parenting

This edition of Early Childhood Matters focuses on positive parenting and programmes aimed at reducing violence against young children. It makes mention of the Sinovuyo Caring Families Project, a parenting programme that seeks to address the reduction of abuse and maltreatment of children in high-risk families in South Africa. Ilifa has partnered with the University of Cape Town and its … Read More

Simple, Early Triggers that Help Our Children to Learn

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Latest edition of the ECD Donor Dialogue: “South Africa should invest in early childhood development in order to enable children to perform better at primary, high school and tertiary levels.” How can we fix our education system? That question preoccupies our national mind – and not without cause. We fail to prepare enough people for basic jobs, let alone to … Read More

ECD services set to improve

Svetlana DonevaECD News

The Department of Social Development in South Africa says it will focus its resources on putting in place a comprehensive Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme, which covers the period from conception to formal school going age. Delivering her department’s R128-billion budget in Parliament on Wednesday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said a national audit of 19 900 ECD facilities conducted by … Read More

New results of stimulation + nutrition add-on to CHW programme

Svetlana DonevaECD News

This article published last week in the Lancet, discusses child development, growth and health outcomes achieved by adding an integrated cognitive stimulation/nutrition intervention for 0-2s on to a lay community health worker programme in rural Pakistan, as part of a large RCT funded by UNICEF. The results show that children who received responsive stimulation had significantly higher development scores on … Read More

Developing appropriate financing models to enable the scale-up of ECD services

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Technical Reports

This report looks at how national and provincial budget processes impact on the funding of ECD services, and at the mechanics of preparing credible plans and budgets that will enable government to effectively finance and deliver them. What financing models would be appropriate to enable the scaling up of early childhood development (ECD) services to achieve population coverage on a … Read More

Ilifa supports National Child Protection Week (1-7 June 2014) – lets work together to make South Africa a safe place for our children

Svetlana DonevaECD News

National Child Protection Week (CPW) is commemorated in South Africa annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Children’s Act of 2005. The campaign that began in 1997 also aims to mobilise all sectors of society to ensure the care and protection of children. The campaign is led by the Minister of Social Development; however … Read More

Key Findings from a Review of ECD Centre Registration and Funding Systems in KZN

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Lessons from the Field

This report provides an overview of the key findings of a 2013 systems and scoping exercise conducted by Ilifa in the Ugu district of KwaZulu-Natal. On the basis of this exercise, Ilifa puts forward a set of recommendations which will lead to the improvement of centre and programme registration and funding processes. Summary of Challenges/Key Findings: There is little evidence … Read More

Biological risks and toxic stress in the first 1000 days

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Publications, Research and Policy Briefs

Adverse experiences during the first 1000 days of a child’s life can have enormous and long-lasting effects which impair the child’s adult potential and ultimately contribute to ongoing inequality in South Africa, according to neurobiological research into the impact of socio-emotional experiences on the developing brain. This important area of research is introduced in two new Ilifa Research Briefs. Biological … Read More

Ilifa: 2013 to 2016 at a glance

Svetlana DonevaECD News

As Ilifa Labantwana moves into Phase II of its strategic plan, it becomes increasingly important that the programme’s goals and strategic objectives are concisely conveyed. The Ilifa Labantwana One Pager provides a succinct overview of the programme, framing the problem it seeks to address and how it intends to do this, by: defining an Essential Package of ECD services; offering support … Read More

Programme reduces HIV/AIDS in South Africa’s children

Svetlana DonevaECD News

According to the SA government’s 2013 mid-term Review of the 2011 UN General Assembly Declaration on HIV and AIDS, the country’s effective PMTCT programme has led to an 80% drop in the number of new infections among children aged 0-14 years (from 82,000 in 2005 to an estimated 21,000 in 2012). In addition, improvements in early infant diagnosis and the … Read More

The Ilifa Labantwana Story

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Flagship Products

The year 2013 brought the first Phase of the Ilifa Labantwana programme to an end, and ushered in the second phase. Two new publications record this moment. The first of these, entitled “A Quantum Leap: The Ilifa labantwana story 2009-2013” gives a brief overview of the history of the programme and details the major achievements of the first Phase. Click … Read More

Quality Matters: OSISA’s Regional ECD Conference

Svetlana DonevaECD News

The Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) hosted a Southern Africa Conference on Early Childhood Development – “Quality Matters” – in Johannesburg on 3-5 December 2013.  Participants from across Southern Africa included government officials and civil society representatives. The conference was a good opportunity to hear from others in the region about endeavours to reach children with services despite … Read More

What do rural children really need?

Svetlana DonevaECD News

A workshop with key provincial stakeholders was recently held in the Ugu municipality of KZN to create a shared vision of what ECD services could look like in Ugu by 2016. The participants took part in a creative visioning exercise in which they were tasked with imagining Ugu as a district where young children are able to realise their full … Read More

Hamba Kahle Tata

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Ilifa Labantwana joins the nation in mourning the loss of our great leader, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. He was a man of courage and compassion. Tata Madiba loved children and was a great campaigner and anchor for children’s rights in South Africa. Madiba is quoted to have said at an annual children’s celebration in 2003, that “we understand and promote the … Read More

The Essential Package – a model for Early Childhood Development

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Flagship Products

[topswf swf=’ Postcontent/themes/ilifalabantwana/images/essentials_animation.swf’ width=’600′ height=’420′ quality=’best’ wmode=’transparent’ scale=’default’ flashvars=” allowfullscreen=’false’]   CLICK THE BOX TO SEE THE COMPONENTS (wait for icons to load) Sixty percent of all South African children (more than 18 million) are born poor and vulnerable. Ilifa Labantwana is committed to establishing a model for the enhanced delivery of early childhood development (ECD) services and support to … Read More

Time to invest properly in our children

Svetlana DonevaECD News

PERSISTENT inequalities serve as a stark reminder that we have yet to improve the lives of the majority of people in South Africa. Poverty negatively affects all aspects of human development, particularly in the early years, by Andy Dawes, Lizette Berry, Linda Biersteker and Sherri le Mottee. Close to 60% of children up to nine years old live in households … Read More

The 2013 South African Child Gauge focuses on stepping up national ECD

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Published by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Ilifa Labantwana, the South African Child Gauge is the only publication to provide an annual snapshot of the status of South Africa’s children. Ilifa Labantwana lead researcher Andrew Dawes is part of the team of top researchers who annually … Read More

Mentor Mothers: a sustainable paraprofessional model?

Svetlana DonevaECD News

The Philani Project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable pregnant mothers and infants from low-income households, through a strategy of home visits by specially trained “mentor mothers”.

Birth to age 5: Your most important investment

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Everyone knows that education boosts productivity and enlarges opportunities. But what about the role of families in producing skills? How does the critical gap in skills between advantaged and disadvantaged children arise long before they enter school? “Opinionator” columnist James J. Heckman brings the debate around ECD onto the global front page in this contribution to the “The Great Divide”, … Read More

Do parenting programmes help prevent violence in the home?

Svetlana DonevaECD News

How effective can parenting programmes be in helping to curb family violence? How would one measure this? These are key questions of a recent study that uses the outcome evaluation method to look critically at parenting programmes, and how they can or should be evaluated. The Full Article: Two UCT-based academics, Cathy Ward and Inge Wessels, have played a … Read More

Call to Collaborate: Expanding and upscaling ECD services and support

Svetlana DonevaECD News

(Updated Version) Ilifa Labantwana is seeking expressions of interest from organisations wishing to participate in a process of identifying and developing a workable social franchising model for the replication and scaling up of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in South Africa. Ilifa and its donor partners (the DG Murray Trust, ELMA Philanthropies and UBS Optimus) have been exploring the possibility of … Read More

Children’s Act Guide for Drop-in Centre Managers

Svetlana DonevaECD News, Parenting

Children must be put first in society to ensure optimal early childhood development, and South African law provides for this.  Through the Children’s Act 38 of 2010 (as amended by Act 41 of 2007), which came into operation on 1 April 2010, policies, laws and interventions are advocated to create improved conditions and circumstances so that children are valued, protected, … Read More

Literacy: The simple profound something we can all do – By Carole Bloch

Svetlana DonevaECD News0 Comments

The period between birth and eight years old is the most important time in children’s early literacy development as they learn and develop the skills needed to be successful in school and later in life. Research from economically developed countries suggests that a mother or carer reading to an infant may be especially effective as a means of promoting infant … Read More

ECD Focus Reduces Crime

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Two articles recently published in U.S. newspapers focus on the importance of quality early childhood development programmes in fighting and reducing crime.

Philadelphia Tribune: Early Education Key to Reducing Crime

Svetlana DonevaECD News

A 25 October article in the Philadelphia Tribune describes a report from the nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Pennsylvania, arguing that early childhood programs are a major factor in reducing/preventing violence and crime in Pennsylvania.

Ilifa Photo Exhibition: Your Child Is a Somebody

Svetlana DonevaECD News

A photographic exhibition, displayed on 27 September at the launch of Ilifa Labantwana’s Your Child Is a Somebody campaign, illustrated the importance of home- and community-based early childhood development (ECD) programs in underserved areas of South Africa.

National ECD Conference 27 – 30 March 2012

Svetlana DonevaECD News

The recent National ECD conference hosted by the National Department of Social Development should to be seen as a crucial first step in the development of an integrated national ECD programme for South Africa.  The conference brought together key government departments, NGOs, institutions of higher learning, researchers and various practitioners within the ECD sector.  The combination of presentations, discussions and … Read More

A Poverty Solution That Starts With a Hug

Svetlana DonevaECD News

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF | Published: January 7, 2012 | PERHAPS the most widespread peril children face isn’t guns, swimming pools or speeding cars. Rather, scientists are suggesting that it may be “toxic stress” early in life, or even before birth. This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a landmark warning that this toxic stress can harm … Read More

Day Care: Good Care Benefits Kids 30 Years Later — And Moms Too

Svetlana DonevaECD News

By Bonnie Rochman | @brochman | Healthland | | February 15, 2012 | 2 Moms who choose high-quality child care tend to be more involved in their children’s schools. And kids who attend high-quality day cares reap the benefits decades later. In the pantheon of parenting decisions — natural childbirth or epidural? Infant carrier or convertible car seat? — … Read More

Learning from birth

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Please download this file to read the article Learning from birth – the cries SA can’t ignore – Mail & Guardian – November 2011

ECD and Mother Tongue Instruction

Svetlana DonevaECD News

According to the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Children from 0 to 5 years of age need a strong foundation in their home language and culture to become good students and productive adults. Yet in conflict environments, preschool and school age children are often forced to learn in an unknown language in culturally different schools. Research results reveal … Read More

Build a prosperous and stable South Africa – Invest in Early Childhood Development

Svetlana DonevaECD News

Heralded by many as the most focused state of the nation address given by President Zuma since taking office in 2009, the president acknowledged “steady progress toward health, education, the fight against crime, human settlements, energy, water provision, rural development and others”. Whilst recognising the persistent challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality which he claimed have their most notable impact … Read More

ALLISTER SPARKS: The single best investment we can make in our future

Svetlana DonevaECD News

In the endless debates about our many critical issues, somehow we seldom hear a word about the single most vital factor that connects them all: the nurturing of small children during their most formative years In the endless debates about our many critical issues — poor education, youth unemployment, shortage of skills, the wealth gap, the crime rate, dysfunctional social … Read More