Early Childhood Development & Grade R

The ECD and Grade R projects that READ runs are designed to help ECD children and practitioners become better equipped for the requirements placed on them by a formal education system. To develop properly, children need mental and physical stimulation from the day they are born. These projects not only develop children’s physical and mental capacity, but also allow them to become incorporated into society, and help with emotional attachment – enabling children to grow into secure and confident adults.

A steady, sensible and caring introduction to an educational environment is very important in helping children to start acquiring learning experience. READ’s practitioner training emphasises the holistic development of the child and the practitioner. There are clear lessons for inside and outside play, the importance of music, puzzle solving and cleanliness. Practitioners are also schooled in what comprises a nutritional diet, and are taught to encourage children to tidy up after themselves and maintain personal hygiene.


Roger Federer FoundationRoger Federer Grade R ProjectLimpopo1415610

The Roger Federer Grade R project is a teacher training project in Limpopo schools towards which the Roger Federer Foundation has donated financing for training and resources. The project’s aim is to ensure that children in their first year of schooling receive the right kind of mental and physical stimulation to make their entry into learning, or ‘proper’ school, an easier and richer experience.

This project has made a huge impact on the communities where the project schools are situated. Previously, many parents were indifferent to their children’s schooling, but because of the changes made by Roger Federer’s project, they now want to be involved with the schools. This includes things like helping the school with building projects, and making sure their children eat properly and come to school regularly and on time.


FirstRand FoundationFirstRand Crèche ProjectNorth West1016466

The FirstRand Crèche project is being run in 15 crèches in the North West province. Care-givers for pre-school children between the ages of three and five are trained and monitored on the READ ECD programme. Schools are provided with resources for inside and outside play. These include puzzles, games, and drawing equipment to assist with fine motor development, colour knowledge, and early maths skills. The highlight of this project has been the development of teachers from general care-givers, to teachers who can make a positive impact on the development of children in the first few years of their lives. Through this project, READ has been able to assist a number of the crèches to register with the Department of Social Development. This enables them to access subsidies.


Roger Federer FoundationGrowing to Read Crèche ProjectNorth West381872128

This project provides training to ECD care-givers, and resources to ECD centres to change them from child care centres to educational and child development centres. This project started in 2010 with 15 centres and one trainer, and has grown 38 centres, and four trainers. The commitment of both the Foundation and the Federer family to developing education in South Africa is evidence of how people who care can make a difference. READ is proud and privileged to be partnered with the Foundation in the work being done for South Africa.

With no fanfare, Roger Federer slipped into the country in early February 2014 to celebrate this work in Thohoyandou’s Govhu Village, at the Govhu crèche. Whilst here, Federer also paid a visit to the Hlukani crèche, where he spent time with the children and those involved with the ‘Growing to READ’ programme. Project Manager, Rhulani Nkuna, has said that the people were so excited to see the tennis ace, that despite a group of teachers being delegated to watch over the learners in an adjacent school, both learners and teachers abandoned the classroom when the Federer party arrived.

The best part of this project is the fact that ECD practitioners are beginning to take the initiative in teaching the children in their care. For example: Alani Shivambu from Lombard, not wanting to wait for ingredients for play dough to be provided, scoured the veld for some clay for the children to use instead.

The support of the Roger Federer Foundation has made an enormous difference to the lives of the people in the area.



SingataGrowing to READ ProjectMpumalanga, Limpopo20401617

Training and resources are provided to care-givers at 20 schools in the Kruger National Park and surrounds, followed by intensive monitoring and support. Learning resources are also provided to help the children develop their motor skills and learn colours and counting. The care-givers are trained in nutrition and health care, and are encouraged to start vegetable gardens.

This project has had a big impact on how care-givers deal with children in their care. Classrooms are now organised to allow for many different activities and play areas. Senias pre-school is an example of this improvement. At the beginning of the year, the children were doing very few activities, and parents were not very involved in their children’s schooling. This school now has dedicated teachers who make sure the children are busy with activities that help stimulate their physical and cognitive development. Parents have been shown how to continue these types of activities in the home and they’ve attended a workshop to learn what constitutes good nutrition for their children.


Telkom FoundationGrade R Intervention ProjectNational except Gauteng1061454290

Through the Telkom Grade R Intervention project, READ Educational Trust hopes to develop the level and quality of teaching that Grade R practitioners offer the children in their care. READ hopes the cognitive and motor skills of kids from these disadvantaged areas will improve, so that they have equal opportunities when they start formal education. Readiness is a stage in a child’s development when s/he is holistically developed and has met all the relevant milestones, can learn easily, effectively and without emotional disturbance.

The Telkom Grade R project is run in all the Rally to READ schools. It is a teacher development project which trains Grade R practitioners in teaching and developing children in their pre-school year. To ensure their understanding of the work they do, teachers are monitored, mentored, and given support after the initial training. Schools are given games, toys, puzzles, and outdoor play equipment, to assist with learners’ gross and fine motor development, and the development of their early reading and mathematical skills.

This is a national project which has had a positive impact wherever it has been implemented. This is clear from the November 2013 follow-up evaluation which measured the change in the children’s abilities from the baseline measure taken at the beginning of the year.

Some of these results are:

Can name body parts73%94%
Can write own name9%82%
Can jump60%96%
Can skip37%96%
Can catch a ball away from body18%94%
Hand-eye coordination54%73%
Can count15%87%
Can sequence a story5%84%

Highlights of this project were the Grade R kids of Ekuphumuleni  reading to the public at Matsamo Plaza during the Readathon, and the learners of Mhlosheni Primary School winning first position in three categories at the Grade R Academic Day competitions. The effort that these educators put into their work is highly praiseworthy.


As their job requires considerable travel, READ trainers are privileged to experience some of the most beautiful places in South Africa and bear witness to some courageous and entrepreneurial teachers and children who are part of READ projects.

On one recent visit to a Rally to READ school in KZN, Mavis, Thobile and Catherine felt they were on a true African safari as it took more than an hour in their little sedan to get from the nearest town to the school. They saw almost no one on the winding roads – only a donkey cart parked at the lonely petrol station on the side of the road. Getting closer to their destination, they came across a teacher and a group of boys shovelling rocks in the road. They were tired, sweaty and wet, but steadfastly busy repairing the road that had been washed away by recent rains. It still meant that our intrepid trio had to do some serious off-roading for the final few kilometres, but it was worth it. They arrived to find a beautiful school, newly painted and clearly the pride of the community.


Your support is welcome and appreciated. Thank you.

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