From the inception of the Sobambisana Initiative, a
project of the DG Murray Trust, in 2007, to the end of Phase I of its programme in 2013, the Ilifa Labantwana story is one of rapid growth, testament to the urgency with which all stakeholders view the development of effective ECD services in South Africa.
Very briefly, Ilifa’s major achievements from 2009-2013 include:
- the creation of a strong funding nucleus, (ELMA Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation and the DG Murray Trust);
- developing, testing and evaluating the implementation of non-centre based provision of ECD, as an important vehicle in the expanded coverage of ECD services;
- taking models of implementation to the next level of scale;
- supporting the development of management systems and leadership by working simultaneously with provincial ECD structures and a second tier of leadership in ECD Resource and Training Organisations (RTOs);
- strengthening training resources by developing a curriculum exemplar for ECD providers;
- tracing the flow of public funds for ECD by describing current financing flows and identifying the main policy and administrative obstacles to accessing funding;
- defining an EssentialPackage of services;
- influencing policy discussion; and
- feeding into the development of the new national ECD policy and programme.
Overall, as attested by external reviews and verification processes, Phase I has seen substantial progress with regard to producing high quality evidence, from rural communities up to the highest tiers of government, of the challenges, progress and opportunities for ECD in South Africa. It has provided a solid foundation on which to base the next phase of the initiative, incorporating lessons learned into the strategic planning for Phase II.