In 1923, the Urban Areas Act was passed forcing black South Africans to live in townships, which culminated in the creation the oldest township Langa near Cape Town. Today the Langa Township houses an estimated 200,000 people with a high rate of unemployment and one of the highest levels of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Many of the working women are single mums and need a safe environment for their children during working hours. The Dalukhanyo Pre-school is one of the few nursery facilities in the Langa Township - Dalukhanyo meaning `to bring light’ in Xhosa.
The school was established in 1986 by some of the local hostel dwellers, who identified the need to provide a play group facility in the community. It commenced with a minimum of resources, and spent its first years of existence operating in an open space between the hostels, as a play group programme. They moved into a container setting provided by the Urban Foundation in 1990, and remained in this temporary facility for a number of years. In 2006, through continued request and petitioning by the management committee of the school, local government provided a prefab school structure. This is a very good structure, consisting of a large classroom, smaller class rooms, a small kitchen, and very good child and adult ablution facilities. The preschool also has some outdoor playground equipment.
The school currently accommodates approximately 185 children. The children are split into four age groups. The nursery currently has thirty-seven 3 to 23 month old babies, under the supervision of two dedicated staff members. Fifty-eight toddlers (approximately 2 years old) have an adjacent space with two teachers. Fifty 3-4 year olds and forty 5-6 year olds share a classroom with their four teachers.
All educators have received formal training through the Early Learning Resource Unit. The teachers work with a child/educator ratio of about one to 23, compared to an average of one to seven in most European countries. Currently the teachers and cook are paid very small salaries if funds are available. In essence, all staff act more or less on a volunteer basis, which could have a impact on the long term sustainability of the school.
The school undoubtedly improves the quality of life and offers the opportunity of a pre-school education for children in the community. It encourages community members to take responsibility for the care of their children, and offer them a better start on their journey in life.
By providing care and a safe haven for pre-school children during the day, it minimizes the incidence of child abuse within the community, and prevents children being exposed to other dangers on the streets. The school has a strong support from the surrounding community, which is important from a safety point of view.
Dalukhanyo also plays a vital role in empowering parents and young people. Regular educational workshops are held, focusing on child-care, nutrition and HIV/Aids awareness.
Dalukhanyo is working with tourism industry members to generate an income for the school by arranging structured tourist visits and developing more sustainable relationships with tour operators and other supporting organisations. For more information visit our supporters page.