Sadly most day care and ECD centres are staffed by caregivers untrained to support children with disabilities.
The award winning Ndinogona “I Can” Programme provides training, mentoring and tools for caregivers. The programme was designed by Occupational Therapists to give caregivers the tools to empower children across a range of disabilities.
The programme focuses on empowering caregivers with the knowledge and experience in providing structured stimulation and ECD activities for all children, and how to adjust activities to accommodate each child's specific needs. This includes an understanding of disability rights, individual learning plans and the importance of inclusive education for all.
Caregivers are also provided with a comprehensive manual of activities adjustable across a range of individual needs. The programme is supplemented by a kit containing over 100 different activities and caregivers are taught to make many more out of recycled material. The kit also includes tools to support engaging with non-verbal children as well as simple, replicable items to assist children with other specific needs.
Parents receive training in order to bring the learning into the household and to build their visions for their children, empowering them to support their children’s journey to education and beyond.
An estimated 597,953 South African children with disabilities are currently excluded from education. (Department of Basic Education 2015:21) This is a generation of children who will grow up without basic educational skills; the ability to gain employment or care for themselves.
It is vital that children with disabilities and their families are given the tools to participate in education as early as possible. Without this support, children with disabilities fall even further behind their peers and face even greater odds of being rejected by mainstream schools. On average only 43.7% of children in South Africa with disabilities are in ECD and Day Care Centres.
Uhambo Foundation runs programmes to build the capacity of ECD and Day Care Centres to support children with disabilities. This is supplemented by training for parents.
Uhambo Foundation partnered with Plan International Mozambique and Light for the World in late 2016, with the aim of piloting an approach to support community-based Early Childhood Development Centres in rural Mozambique to be disability-inclusive. The main goal of the pilot was to increase the number of children with disabilities enrolled at the centres, through skills and capacity building of teachers.
All children have the right to play, and yet for many children with disabilities this is not considered. Structured stimulation builds on the concepts that children learn through play. Uhambo Foundation has developed the award winning Ndinogona “I Can” Programme based on the principles of structured stimulation.