The mission of Honorary Life President Henri Kuiper and the founding Trustees of Enlighten was ‘to improve the quality of teaching, learning and life in the Overstrand’. With this in mind, they pin-pointed the importance of upgrading teachers’ skills, so that there would be a long-term benefit for the children in their classes. To this end, they initiated two projects in seven schools, however, because Enlighten has always responded to challenges identified by the local communities and the Western Cape Education Department (Overberg District), with which it works in close collaboration, it has continued to expand its involvement, both in reach and in diversity.
Nearly fourteen years later, Enlighten is now implementing 18 projects in 22 schools. While the enhancement of teaching skills is still a priority, we also offer a wide range of direct services to children, both in-class and extra-mural, to fill the gaps that exist in the educational system and to offer a safety net for at-risk learners. Another major policy shift has been the decision to focus Enlighten’s interventions more specifically on the early years, the Foundation Phase and Early Childhood Development, in particular.
So, in addition to the 22 schools reached by our projects, we also work with roughly 30 ECD centres throughout this large geographical region. In addition to practitioner training, we monitor the implementation of training, mentor practitioners, assist with the upgrading of centres, many of which are home-based, and provide them with indoor and outdoor equipment. We also have mobile toy and book libraries, which visit 30 educare centres and 3 schools on a scheduled weekly basis.
We are proud of the reputation for excellence and reliability we have built up in our communities and every success achieved or skill mastered by a learner is celebrated by us all. The positive feedback we have received from principals, teachers and parents has provided overwhelming proof that Enlighten’s founding vision has borne fruit. We believe that it is vital to approach education on a ‘whole-child’ basis. Our educational services have a strong developmental focus, interleaving closely with one another and with other stakeholders, like teachers, parents and educational authorities.
Apart from the ‘hard’ subjects like language/literacy; numeracy/maths and science and technology, we place strong emphasis on the arts, where children have the opportunity to develop their imagination and creative potential, as well as their communication skills and self-confidence. In several instances, we have been able to unearth real talent and provide the support, training and encouragement to bring it to fruition.
Recognising that children’s development in the early years is at its best when teachers and parents work together to achieve a shared objective, we have collaborated with the Western Cape Education Department, Overberg Division (OED) and three local schools to introduce a structured programme for the parents of Grade R learners. The goal is for the parents to understand the skills that their children are expected to acquire during the year and to support and reinforce the work of the teacher in achieving this objective.