The Mikhulu Child Development Trust engages with advocacy work around early childhood development policies in South Africa. At the core of this is our belief that a holistic approach to ECD in South Africa is required: an approach that includes parents and caregivers providing ECD to their own children, in their own homes. We undertake advocacy work through our interactions with government and forum bodies, exposure in the media and through our external communications.

Our core advocacy messages are:

ECD support for Parents:

National strategies on early childhood development should include support to parents, in addition to traditional centre-based support

Parents should start early:

Parents should start doing regular stimulating activities with their children from before their children can speak

Relationships support development:

Parents should be supported to develop positive and nurturing relationships with their young children – good relationships help children develop better.

The National Integrated ECD policy (NIECD)

The National Integrated ECD policy (NIECD) identifies a holistic strategy to support young children in South Africa. The policy identifies eight elements that will collectively provide children with comprehensive early development. These elements are:

In addition to this, the policy aims to facilitate universal access to developmentally appropriate early learning opportunities for young children, including home-based, group-based and centre-based approaches.

The Mikhulu Trust was established based on decades of research into the parent-child relationship and how it impacts and supports child development. Mikhulu Trust also recognises that the majority of the current ECD sector work and advocacy focuses on the dire need for more effective government policies and support to ECD centres. This work is important, and Mikhulu Trust supports the Real Reform for ECD campaign in this regard.

Mikhulu Trust’s particular ECD advocacy interest is focused on the parent. Research has proven that children who grow up meaningfully connected to at least one primary caregiver develop better and are more likely to attain better health and education outcomes. They are also more resilient to stressors, even under extreme conditions of poverty. Conversely, children who are not connected to a caregiver that is responsive and attentive to their needs are less likely to reach their developmental goals, and achieve poorer long-term outcomes.

Through our work with parents, we recognise how little encouragement and support parents receive to validate their role in their child’s life. The parents we work with often do not feel that they are capable of supporting their children’s development because they themselves are not formally educated. Our message to parents is that, simply by being “tuned into” your child’s needs and interests, and engaging them in stimulating activities, they are able to give their children exactly what they need.

Parents leave our programme feeling a greater sense of confidence in their role in their children’s lives – they both value their role and are equipped to play that role better.

Our advocacy message is simple

To Government, Funders and Civil Society

“Parents are critical to children’s early development, and all ECD strategies should include a focus on parents and caregivers at home.”

To Parents

“You are the most important influence in the development of your child – your relationship with them helps them grow and learn.”

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