In the world of development, there is a heavy push to scale projects for broader impact. But what is scaling? For us, scaling is not just about doing more of what’s being done in more places; it’s about scaling out, scaling up, and, most importantly, scaling deep. 

We work in one of the most remote and rural areas of South Africa, where government services are often slow to deliver or absent and isolated from other NGOs and town centres. To make a meaningful and substantial difference in the lives of people in our community, we need to operate with a holistic, person-centred approach.

Improving education outcomes for learners in our community doesn’t just take a single intervention. It begins by supporting mothers at home to have healthy pregnancies. It involves providing children with essential deworming, vitamin-A tablets and nutritious food, mitigating the risk of stunting. Recognising that parents or caregivers may lack literacy skills or school experience means we need to provide additional tutoring support at school so learners don’t fall behind. There needs to be a nearby high school and comprehensive career guidance to make sure young people have more opportunities and choices to create productive careers. 

True development and changing systems involve a far more complex process than our conventional idea of scaling. As a deeply embedded, community-based organisation, our strength is our ability to effect change at the individual and community levels. Whether scaling up, out or deep, we are all pieces of the puzzle needed to positively transform lives.