LETHABONG NURSERY SCHOOL
Florah Melaong has dedicated her life to children, operating a care center for the past 26 years, often with little or no compensation for herself. She serves kids ages 0-5 and describes her program as follows: “Children are taught in English and Southern Sotho, learning literacy, numeracy, and life skills – all in a dedicated Christian environment. They are encouraged to develop positive self-esteem, to respect and appreciate others, and to have a life-long love of learning.”
Side by Side built a new facility for Florah in 2006 – 4 classrooms and an office – serving 100+ kids. She has survived by charging school fees to parents and receives R5 per day (about 37 cents) per child from the Department of Health to be used for nutritional support.
Why is Side by Side helping this well-established business? Because last year the government began providing care (baby-sitting, really) for 4-5 yr olds at no cost. Conditions in the schools are poor; classrooms have 50 children with one teacher. Hardly an environment for learning. Florah’s market (and that of other similar providers) is now basically eliminated since this much lower-quality care, is now free. Without support, Lethabong would have been forced to close. The quality of care Florah has given is the best we have seen in South Africa. The kids are engaged and display confidence and knowledge beyond their years. We have had ECD-experienced visitors say her kids’ development exceeds what they have seen in the States.
Side by Side is assisting by providing resources to help them continue to operate for 2 years while they work towards independence again through restructuing the school fees and seeking funding from South African sources.