Home News Effective education is the key to country success, says visiting Rhodes professor

Effective education is the key to country success, says visiting Rhodes professor

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Prof Matthew Lester (2nd from left) with Kusasa co-founder Dave Riordan, Kusasa ELC Principal Marie-Louise Raymond and Kusasa co-founder Doug Gurr

Professor Matthew Lester, who lectures tax and corporate governance at the Rhodes Business School in Grahamstown, visited The Kusasa Project’s Early Learning Centre in Groendal on Tuesday, 21 November.

Prof Lester’s presentation, entitled “Life after The President’s Keepers” focussed on South Africa’s economic and political woes and what he sees as the solution. An early childhood development centre may seem like an unusual venue for such a presentation but Prof Lester presented a compelling argument that the economic future of our country depends on the delivery of quality education starting with the 3-8 year-old age group. According to the professor research shows that countries derive the greatest return from investment in human capital. Much of South Africa’s basic education system is however dysfunctional and needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up. As most of the skills required for scholastic success are learned before the age 10 the focus of interventions has to be on early childhood development and primary school education. As the saying goes “The rest will take care of itself.”

The Kusasa Project, said Prof Lester, is a prime example of an organisation that is addressing the country’s education crisis by providing learners with the crucial foundational skills they’ll need for life-long learning.

In linking Prof Lester’s message on the economic challenges South Africa faces to The Kusasa Project, trustee Dave Riordan reflected on the gloomy socio-economic outlook based on factors such as the small, heavily-taxed tax base; dysfunctional basic education system and the mostly unemployable graduates the higher education system delivers. The key resource to address this crisis is our young children; with early childhood education as the delivery mechanism.

The Kusasa Project’s Early Learning Centre has highly skilled and committed teachers and support staff, who focus on both the emotional and intellectual development of the children. Learning at the centre includes the development of healthy habits, being responsible, developing self-confidence and how to thrive in an ever-changing world. The multi-disciplinary interventions and holistic teaching methods instil receptivity to learning in the children, which is a reliable predictor of future success.

The centre works in close partnership with the children’s parents – an aspect that has been identified as a key success factor. Principal Marie-Louise Raymond sums up their approach by saying, “No significant learning can occur without significant relationships.”

The Kusasa Project is a section 18a registered public benefit organisation (PBO) with a proven 12-year track record of working in the Franschhoek community. It is entirely reliant on donations and receives no state funding. It costs Kusasa R35 000 per child per year to keep the Early Learning Centre operating.  Next year the centre will have 125 learners. All contributions towards keeping this exemplary centre operating will be very gratefully received. Kindly visit www.thekusasaproject.org/donate.

Reporting by Lisa de la Hunt