It has been 7 weeks since we first opened the Jujurha Early Learning Centre. So this is a long overdue update, with lots to report!

Big plans…

Our plans for the building of the Early Learning Centre have been finalised and we’re well on our way to completing the foundations. Thanks to generous funding from the Nussbaum Foundation, DG Murray Trust, Solon Foundation, Ford Alumni Association, Truworths, two JDI Groups, the Glenday family and the Klements, we’re expecting to complete Round 1 of building by end June. This will include 3 classrooms, an office, a kitchen, storeroom, water tanks, toilets, teacher accommodation and a fabulous jungle gym!

We’ve also received funding from the Raith Foundation for our community library. The library will provide an invaluable resource for the Early Learning Centre, the local primary schools and the community in general. We have plans for reading afternoons, traditional story telling, spelling competitions, after-school tutoring programmes….and simply providing children and adults with a quiet and comfortable space to explore the world through the wonder of books.

For little people…

Meanwhile, in our temporary classroom hut on the grassy hill adjacent the building site you can hear the sound of little voices singing and laughing.

Our trainee teacher (Xolisa) and her assistant (Nokonwaba) have done an incredible job of turning an empty, partly built hut into a happy and fun place for learning, thriving, growth and development. With donations of toys, books, puzzles, paper and other materials, our team set about formulating a daily programme that would introduce the children to the joys of learning through structured play. At the same time, we needed to keep the routine simple – so as not to overwhelm the children, many of whom had never seen a puzzle or block.

The daily routine looks something like this:

07h30 – 08h30: Children wander to school through fields of maize and herds of cattle

08h30 – 09h15: Morning ring and action songs

09h15 – 10h00: Yummy hot porridge followed by outside play

10h00 – 10h45: Free play inside and small group work (numbers, shapes, colours…)

10h45 – 11h00: Fruit snack and juice

11h00 – 11h45: Creative play, usually involving something messy!

11h45 – 12h15: Story ring and end of day ritual

12h15 – 12h45: Freshly baked Xhosa bread to end the school day

The children’s progress has been delightful to watch and their enjoyment of school is evident in low rates of absenteeism and their desire to linger at the school long after story time has ended (quite possibly to get an extra piece of delicious fire-baked Xhosa bread!).