• Community Trust began work on Ikhwezi Lomso in 2010
  • The Centre has 90 learners and six Montessori teachers
Uitenhage – Amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) celebrated 10 successful years of furthering Early Childhood Development (ECD) through the Ikhwezi Lomso ECD Centre in Uitenhage.

Work on the Ikhwezi Lomso Centre began in 2010, when the Volkswagen Community Trust – in partnership with community stakeholders – identified the need for an Early Childhood Development Centre in the KwaLanga area, to empower learners from an early age through quality education.

The Ikhwezi Lomso Early Childhood Development Centre subsequently began operating in February 2011, initially employing two teachers and a temporary Centre manager. The Centre now employs six qualified Montessori teachers, a permanent Centre manager, and four support staff members.

A total of 90 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years attend Ikhwezi Lomso, with classes being offered in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. The Centre moved to the Montessori method of education in 2016, allowing children to learn and develop at their own pace.

One of the first learners of Ikhwezi Lomso was Diané Lambatjeen (13), who attended Grade R at the Centre in 2011. Diané, who is now in Grade 8 at Strelitzia High, has performed consistently well since her time at Ikhwezi Lomso.

“We’ve been very happy with Ikhwezi Lomso; the school laid a strong foundation for Diané,” added her mother, Dané Moosa. “My other two children also attended Ikhwezi Lomso, because we saw what a great job they did with her.”

Though the Centre had to close for three months during the national lockdown, it reopened in July after implementing Covid-19 protocols for both staff and learners in order to keep everyone safe. Around 60 of the Centre’s learners have returned under these conditions.

Since work began on Ikhwezi Lomso in 2010, more than R13,5 million has been invested in the Centre. Of this amount, over R3,5 million was raised through VWSA’s One Hour for the Future initiative, which consists of employees volunteering to donate one hour of their salaries each year in support of the Centre and its work.

Ikhwezi Lomso forms part of the Community Trust’s portfolio of projects in the field of Education, which is also one of its most critical priorities. The Trust has in recent years established five literacy centres at schools in Uitenhage, with the aim of ensuring that each learner in Uitenhage is functionally literate and able to read with understanding by the end of Grade 3.

VWSA has also contributed further to Early Childhood Development across South Africa, through a long-standing partnership with the non-profit organisations Ntataise Trust and the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD). The partnership dates back to 2008 when VWSA committed funds and 10 Citi Golfs to assist with the training of practitioners, development of educational material and the improvement of ECD centres in rural areas. Currently, VWSA supplies 10 Polo Vivos to the two organisations, which are used for outreach to early childhood centres in historically disadvantaged areas to provide teacher training, learning material and other support. The vehicles are used in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Free State.

“As the Community Trust, we believe education and youth development initiatives are crucial to addressing the problem of inequality in South Africa,” said Nonkqubela Maliza, Director for Corporate and Government Affairs at VWSA. “Investing in the early years of education provides a foundation on which youth can build bright futures – and we are proud to empower them to do so through our education initiatives.”