Our playgroup programme in the North West is successful because of the passionate SmartStarters who identify opportunities to fill early learning gaps in their communities.  Here’s one of their stories…  

Growing up, Shakespeare dreamt of becoming a Chartered Accountant, but his plans to study after matriculating in 1996 were put on hold because he had no way to pay for his studies.  In the years that followed, Shakespeare’s dreams of working in finance slipped further and further away. He made ends meet by doing piece jobs, before eventually joining the Community Work Programme (CWP) – a government programme which creates job opportunities for people living in poverty.

While at CWP, Shakespeare worked at various community construction projects. In 2015 he heard about SmartStart, which provides education programmes to young children by training CWP participants to run regular community playgroups.

Shakespeare immediately knew he wanted to get involved. He is passionate about education, but hasn’t been able to afford it for himself.

Just over a year after attending his first SmartStart training, Shakespeare is running his own playgroup for 7 children in a community-provided space in Ngobi Village.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if I could teach. But I’ve learnt so much. What’s most important to me is that children are no longer roaming the streets,” says Shakespeare. “The parents tell us that they are always asking to come. I’m very proud to be doing this.”

Shakespeare’s vision is to help his playgroup children enter Grade R prepared for the formal school system. As a father to a young six-year-old boy, Shakespeare understand how important early learning is.

“I wish I could have done this programme with my boy. But this programme is helping me to help him. Although he is a bit older, I’m still able to teach him some of the things I’ve learnt.”

At 42 years old, Shakespeare is a wonderful example of how the SmartStart franchised programme is changing lives. While bringing more quality education to young children in South Africa – helping them prepare for school and overall success in life – it is also helping adults, such as Shakespeare, to run and manage small businesses of their own.

This article was written by Funie Rabambi (SmartStart Communications). If you would like to read more presonal stories stories from the early learning playgroup programme in the North West, click here

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