James Urdang

Education Africa, South Africa

Organization Focus
It is common cause that Africa struggles with critical issues affecting the education of its citizens. Poor levels of education include a lack of infrastructure, poorly trained teachers, and lack of an early child development (ECD) emphasis, among other things.  This is further challenged by the fact that often, learners come from dysfunctional homes and the parents/caregivers themselves have limited to no education. This results in many people being ‘stuck’ in a cycle of poverty.

Education Africa‘s focus is to break the cycle of poverty through our project portfolio that offers educational interventions and benefits from pre-primary schooling through to tertiary educational levels. 

My plans with the 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Award
I plan to utilise the funding for our Education Africa Early Childhood Development (ECD) project. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical for acquiring fundamental cognitive, physical and emotional skills, yet an astonishing 75% of ECD teachers in South Africa have never received any kind of training. Through our ECD project we offer pre-school caregivers in disadvantaged communities a cost-free and comprehensive certified training curriculum made up of theoretical classroom workshops, practical implementation within ECD centres, onsite support and ongoing assessment. With the funding we plan to sustain our existing ECD training, and aim to train additional ECD trainers to expand our reach and enable more communities to benefit from this programme.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
Our focus through our ECD project is to make an impact on townships and rural children to ensure they will not be vulnerable to lifelong, irreversible cognitive impairment and that they will have the best possible start to their formal schooling.  This early intervention is essential to break the cycle of poverty, and to help ensure that children benefiting from our ECD project have a chance at becoming productive members of society in the world of work.

Aside from benefiting pre-schoolers, Education Africa’s ECD project provides unemployed and unqualified youth with a credible tertiary qualification and a chance at a new career path in ECD education, thus empowering the broader community economically.