The purpose of our Early Childhood Development is to offer an integrated approach covering the first 6 years of life with nutritional support, support for primary caregivers, social services and stimulation for early learning education.

We manage and operate a pre-school “Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori” (ILM). The school functions as a model of excellence in our rural area. 60 children attend the school, which has a waiting list. They get two nutritious meals each day and receive de-worming twice yearly.

To involve the local community and specifically the children’s parents, we have an active Parent Governing Board, hold quarterly workshops with other local pre-schools to share ideas and address challenges and run regular Parent Education Workshops.

Additionally, we have (in collaboration with Auburn HouseFirst Children and MCSA) trained seven local women to qualify for Montessori ECD Level 5. Three are employed at Ikhaya Labantwana Montessori, the other two run their own schools in the area. Due to high demand, a second teacher training course is underway. We are also looking at supporting local pre-schools and Grade Rs with the resources and knowledge needed to run a successful class/school.

We also offer regular health checks at junior and pre-schools in our area through the mobile health clinic service, the Wellness Wagon. Removing the barriers to accessing healthcare has positively impacted not only on the health of children, and therefore their ability to learn, but has also reduced contagious outbreaks and improved school attendance.

Some facts about our ECD projects over the years:

  • 455 children passed through ILM
  • 2444 children seen by the Wellness Wagon
  • 210 parents reached with Parent Education Workshops


Access to quality integrated Early Childhood Development is a game changer in this area. It leads to better results at primary level, makes parents more involved in their child’s learning and provides the children with nutritious meals that help their development.

Child carrying firewood
A local child carrying firewood | © Mica Wright

An integrated approach that involves the child, parents, health services and educators is essential to robust development in children. Furthermore, the South African Early Childhood Review 2016 states that:

“The foundations for lifelong learning are built in the first 6 years of life when the brain is most receptive to stimulation. Children who do not attend quality early learning programmes, start formal schooling at a disadvantage. The gap between them and their more advantaged peers widens over time.”

Why Sustainable Coffee Bay is trying to make a difference:

  • 50% of children in our area do not have access to an early childhood development (ECD) program. Source: Wazi ECD Maps
  • This problem is reflected nationally with 1 million children aged 3-5 years do not have access to an ECD programme. For those children who do, programmes often don’t meet minimum standards.
  • Only 56% of Grade 3 learners achieve the 50% benchmarks for Maths and English. This is linked to poor access to quality early learning opportunities.

Source: South African Early Childhood Review 2016.

Project links

Ikhaya Labantwana

As the first purpose built pre-school of its kind in the area, Ikhaya Labantwana integrates education, health, nutrition and social services, laying the foundation for a lifetime of learning that opens the children up to many new opportunities.

Parent Education Workshops

Children need caregivers who are responsive and nurturing, from pregnancy, through babyhood and beyond. The workshops provide parents with education and support to promote caregiving behaviours that benefit their children.

Wellness Wagon

A qualified nurse visits local (pre-)schools, removing the barrier of (paying for) transport. We offer health checks, basic treatments, referrals to doctors and follow-ups with teachers and parents for serious issues like stunting/TB.

Latest Early Childhood Development updates