The Tower Property Fund, which launched on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in July 2013, has partnered with The University of Cape Town (UCT) and The Southern Africa Sustainable Development Initiative (SASDI) to build a Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the community of New Crossroads, Cape Town.
The project will see the re-furbishment of an existing building on Nceba Avenue in New Crossroads, Nyanga. The building is leased by the University of Cape Town on a 99 year leasehold agreement from the City of Cape Town and, once developed, will form the hub in an ECD support network within the community , which will provide training and support to shack-based ECD’s in the area, as wells as the ECD forum.
“Tower has identified a major need in South Africa to enhance the education of young children (Early Childhood Development or “ECD”) in underprivileged areas,” says Marc Edwards, CEO of Tower.
Significant research shows the benefit of investing in a child, from an educational perspective, at an early age. Unfortunately, South Africa’s past has resulted in the majority of our country’s children being educated in less than ideal conditions and often starting their education far later than privileged children due to lack of resources.
“We are extremely passionate about assisting where we can in ECD and are pleased to have partnered with the UCT and SASDI on this project in Cape Town.” Says Edwards.
Stuart Hendry, Director of the UCT Development Unit for New Enterprise (DUNE), explains that the project not only involves refurbishing an existing UCT property into a world class Centre for Early Childhood Development, but also involves a high-touch training and development programme for the ECD principle’s and their staff, who self-select as partner beneficiaries. “Our research has shown that as principle’s and teachers are developed and their facilities upgraded, they in turn become support nodes in their ECD networks – this has a powerful multiplier effect, with positive consequences for potentially thousands of early learners.”
It is envisaged that the New Crossroads hub will offer Principal and teacher training development; parent training and support, an ECD resource centre that has educational games and toys which can be borrowed like a library; creative art resources, fantasy play resources; a mini library for children and teachers and a specially designed outdoor educational playground.
The centre will also house a Community Computer and IT Centre which will supply the ECD Principals, teachers and early learners in the area with access to computers and computer training, as well as supply members of the community with after-hours access to computers and computer training. The computer centre will also supply the Centre with a source of revenue, generated from running the Computer Centre as an after-hours Internet Café.
The total cost to get the project off the ground is an estimated R8,5 million. Once the facilities have been properly upgraded and prinicple’s and teachers properly qualified, the centres can then access this provincial government support grant of R18 per child per day. The ECD grant from government coupled with the fees from parents who are able to pay, will help the schools to cover running costs and makes the whole project sustainable.
Tower Property will play an intricate role in the refurbishment of the site, the raising of funds in the project through their shareholder base and the on-going management/assistance of the property post construction.