Royal Drakensberg Education Trust

The Royal Drakensberg Education Trust aims to support children’s development from infancy to 10 years in a rural and disadvantaged area of the northern Drakensberg and consists of…

Our Mission is to provide quality educational opportunities so that young children can learn2read and in turn read2learn. We aim to achieve this via 3 linked initiatives which have been developed over time.

1. Royal Drakensberg Primary School which provides a quality foundation to learning was established in 2007. Children enrol in the year they turn 4 years old and remain until 10. Through a curriculum which acknowledges children’s mother tongue while also promoting English learning the school’s teachers focus on the full development of the child, nurturing and supporting them to reach their full potential. Royal Drakensberg works closely with teachers from the community offering a mentoring programme to support the Khanyisela pre-schools.

2. Early childhood development. In 2006 the Khanyisela Project began to support 5 small rudimentary centres and since then it has built schools, promoted learning and trained more than 50 ECD practitioners. We now support 18 facilities in which we actively promote learning opportunities through play and rich experience to develop language and other pre-literacy skills. To achieve this, we focus on teacher education, enabling staff to attain formal qualifications from Midlands College. We provide ongoing whole staff CPD and short internships at RDPS. Visits from UK consultants and the University of Ghent provide further support for practice and mentoring from 2 more experienced local staff offers ongoing development and problem solving .These activities aim to equip children for success in grade R and beyond.

3. Carer and baby programme – BabyBoost. We acknowledge that learning begins in infancy. Children given opportunities for stimulation as babies into early years develop strong neurological pathways which provide solid foundations for future learning. Accordingly in 2017 we started a carer and baby programme based on research to promote the early foundations of interaction and language development through supporting carers to provide responsive caregiving through talking, playing, cuddling, responding, and singing to babies. The program was developed from the bottom up and in response to observations of the needs of very young children in preschool facilities and driven by understanding that carers, given knowledge and support can be powerful agents of children’s earliest development. The program now has a manual, is culturally appropriate and is delivered by local facilitators via group coaching sessions, home visits, and structured play groups and is supported by toy and book libraries.