As I promised yesterday, I will give you a hint on the situation in preschools. We visited a preschool in a township about twenty minutes from here. We were taken there by Yolandi, who we heard about yesterday.
This preschool once had 65 children, which blows my mind to think about given the size of the place. In fact that is why they only have forty enrolled now, since the health department told them to cut enrollment. It is a shame though because those absent kids are not being well served.
When we visited, there were only a dozen or so kids due to the weather. It was cold and raining and the conditions in the townships are notorius in the winter time (why do I go everywhere in the winter?). One cannot watch the news here without seeing the plight of people displaced from their homes by water. So, the director of the preschool told us that when the weather is bad, the mothers do not go to work and keep their little ones home. A woman will do domestic work in the homes of the more affluent for about $11.50 a day.
These mothers pay 55 Rand (about $7) a month for this day care/preschool. If a woman qualifies, she can receive about $28 per month per child from the local government. The local community provides about a dollar a day per child to offset the cost of this day care/education/nurturing place. I throw these numbers at you to get you contemplating the relative low cost of things in these preschools.
Last December, I was at a conference in DC that focused on the need for Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the developing world (which this certainly is). At this conference, I learned that studies show that if we can educate children well in the preschool years, a dollar invested in them is worth five invested in an elementary (primary) school aged child and worth ten invested in a high school aged child. Today, I began to see – – – and undertstand.
I have not crunched the numbers yet and have no ideas or proposals yet, I am still gathering information. But when I looked at those little faces and compared them to the faces of the drunk teen age boys I saw earlier or the faces of the girls giving themselves away after they have been raped, I am beginning to see where some wise investment here can be a Kingdom priority. We will visit more pre-schools next week.
Next: the church Josh and Abby help plant and serve in celebrates its first anniversary.
Next Week: a camp to bring Peace from Grace to young girls hearts who have been crushed by sexual abuse.