What we are about
Our ECD training and literacy programmes help children who want to be equipped with the necessary skills to flourish in the school system when starting grade 1. By providing access to good quality ecd interventions and literacy programmes to foundation phase learners.
We want to give every child access to excellent early childhood development so that they meet their developmental goals, and have the best possible chance to make a success of their school career.
How We Got Started
Stellumthombo was founded in 2016 to incorporate three different community development projects under one umbrella. These projects included Straatlig (Homeless development programme), BecomingKids (Early intervention programme) and Masandise (Tertiary education support for first-generation students).
All of these programmes formed a big part of Stellumthombo’s story. To get where we are today where our focus shifted from doing everything to working more focused and strategic. At Stellumthombo, we learned a lot from working in the community development space, and still know that we do not have the answers. The truth is that we are where we are through an interactive approach.
Working with a wicked problem which is also known as a complex problem or mess, there is a lot of uncertainty and many different systems impacting each other. The only way to try and address these types of issues is by prodding, stepping back, assessing and well repeat.
Through many different types of prodding, assessing and pivoting Stellumthombo have evolved to a more focussed organisation and thus maximising its impact in the community. Stellumthobo changed from an organisation with many projects targeting different types of beneficiaries, to a more focussed organisation with a more strategic, measurable and effective impact in addressing some of the issues in the communities in and around Stellenbosch.
From Homelessness to Early Childhood development - History of Stellumthombo
To understand how we got from an organisation primarily focussing on homelessness to an organisation concentrating on ECD, one needs to understand the learnings we had since Straatlig was founded in 2004.
Straatlig was founded by a student with a passion for homeless people and wanted to give these people back human dignity and reintegrate them into the Stellenbosch society. To do this, one of the first strategies was to give people wendy houses in the surrounding communities, with the theory that this will have the most impact in addressing their problems. We quickly learned, however, that not having a house, is the tip of the iceberg of homelessness. All of the people who received a wendy house lost it in the next couple of years, due to various reasons. Not only were these individuals back on the street, but there was also an influx of homeless people into Stellenbosch. The reason was that homeless people move around. When the rumours spread that in Stellenbosch you can get a wendy house, people started to go there from all over the country.
So Straatlig went back to the drawing board, and the services changed. A more in-depth understanding of the individuals on the street quickly made us ask how can we have a better impact on addressing the homeless problem. We learned from our beneficiaries that the reason they landed on the street in the first place was because of a lack of proper education, or no positive role models growing up. We realised homeless people in Stellenbosch had children, who were either already on the street or will end up there if there is no intervention in their lives.
Straatlig decided to start to work preventatively with the vulnerable children in Cloetesville (an area on the fringes of Stellenbosch where many homeless people come from). The idea of this intervention programme was to introduce positive role models into the lives of the children. Research indicated that positive role models cultivate resilience and improve the chances that children will not make choices which will result in them landing on the street. This new initiative was called BecommingKids.
Straatlig continued, however, to serve the homeless, and tried to address many homeless issues through responsible giving campaigns, street store initiatives and many others. At the end of 2019, we had an audit of the Straatlig programme. The aim was to determine the impact of the programme in addressing the issue of empowering homeless people in Stellenbosch. The results indicated that instead of empowering the homeless people, Straatlig was sustaining their lifestyle by providing them with clothes, blanket, food and spiritual support. After 16 years, we realised that to have a more significant impact in the next 16 years we need to rethink our strategy.
Our new focus also became apparent through the BecomingKids programme. Initially, the focus of Becommingkids was to create a safe space, where primary school children play and merely be children. After ten years, we introduced specific metrics also to track the impact of this programme. The results showed that the effect of the programme was not what we intended. Many children in the programme dropped out of school, and their lives were on the trajectory of them ending up on the street.
When we investigated the reason for this, we identified one critical issue. Many of them were struggling at school, especially with literacy. These children coped until grade five or six. They started to struggle, lashed out at school and home, get expelled and labelled as a problem child, and finally stopped going to school altogether. When we started asking the five “why” questions to understand the problem better, we concluded that many of these children did not attend a quality ECD. It also meant that these children did not meet their developmental goals on time and were not school ready when they started grade one.
To understand this problem better Stellumthombo launched a pilot programme in 2019 in partnership with Her Voice. The plan was to start a support group for young mothers in Cloetesville whose children were under the age of two years. The group consisted of 5 mothers who met every second week and had the opportunity to talk about their challenges as young mothers in their context. This pilot programme gave us a glimpse of what the problems are, especially the limited access to quality ECD’s in their communities. The options were either that there is no space, too expensive or of poor quality (children not being stimulated enough).
It is in this light that we decided to pivot and to keep true to findings in current research that the place to have the most effective and lasting impact in the life of a child is during the first seven years.
Stellumthombo’s focus on ECD
Stellumthombo allows children to reach their potential and flourish as individuals
How do we do this?
Children will have the necessary skills to flourish in the school system when starting school.
What do we do?
Stellumthombo facilitates ECD and parent training as well as mentorship to communities and provides literacy development to foundation phase learners.
Courses / Training
Stellumthombo ECD facilitators to ensure good quality ECD in ECD centres as well as start playgroups in underserved areas. This is achieved through four different courses. Each of these courses will have a continuous mentorship and evaluation component as well as giving the ECDs access to an activity library in the communities.
Giving parents and ECD facilitators skills on how to administer a positive, participatory style with children. Equipping them on how to treat, manage and discipline children in a constructive manner.
First 1000 days
Giving parents as well as ECD facilitators skills on how to care for, feed (nutrition) and stimulate children from 0-2 years. To ensure that the children meet their developmental milestones and improve their chances of becoming school ready.
Giving parents as well as ECD facilitators skills on how to care for, feed (nutrition), and stimulate children from 2-5 years to help them meet their developmental milestones.
Business management course
For unemployed women in underserved communities who want to start an ECD playgroup. This will enable them to earn an income, as well as provide children access to good quality ECD in their area.
The second programme is to address the literacy issue in Grade R learners who have not been in an ECD. We realise that many learners did not have access to ECDs and are a bit behind in some areas, but through the right early intervention, these gaps can be considerably reduced.
By making use of the Wordworks as well as the Lego six bricks methodology, we can have a measurable impact to make sure that all children have the best possible opportunity in Grade one to make a success of their school career.
In our literacy programmes
ECDs we support
First generation students supported in Masandise
We provide free Afrikaans (home language of our beneficiaries) training to ECD management and facilitators in communities around Stellenbosch
Get in Touch. Get Involved.
Please get in touch if jou need more information.