“Experts tell us that 90% of all brain development occurs by the age of five. If we don’t begin thinking about education in the early years, our children are at risk of falling behind by the time they start Kindergarten.”
– Robert. L. Ehrlich
In Namibia, there is no government provision for the education of children between 2 and 5 years old. Preschool education depends on the private initiative of churches, NGOs, communities and individuals. However, these years are crucial since it is in these early years that the groundwork is laid which enables a child to develop to their full potential in primary school. At Wake up! Early Education Centre we believe that every child should have this opportunity, regardless of their financial status.
Wake up! Early Education Centre is a facility in the suburb of Otjomuise in Windhoek which provides quality care and education to children aged 2-6. The Centre is governed by the Penduka Daycare Centre Trust and registered with the Municipality of Windhoek as a formal daycare centre. It has a full fitness certificate as proof of compliance with all applicable standards and regulations as stated in the Early Childhood Development Policy adopted in 2008 by the City of Windhoek. The Centre is also registered with the Ministry of Education as a private school offering pre-primary education to 5/6 year olds and with the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare as an institution offering child care services for the age group 2-5.
The Centre opened its doors in 2010 with two classrooms. Due to local demand we have doubled in size since then and we now have four classrooms which accommodate a daycare centre for toddlers aged 2-3 and a pre-school for children aged 4-6. In total we cater for around 80 learners and we are full to capacity. We provide healthy and nutritious snacks and a cooked lunch to all children each day and we offer afternoon care up to 5pm.
Through the establishment of a centre with adequate facilities, trained staff and a range of appropriate learning materials, the trust intends to set a standard for pre-school education in the area and become a model pre-school and training centre, reaching out to parents, early childhood educators and other community members in promoting early childhood education.
The Wake up! Centre follows a Montessori approach to teaching, which is a learner-centred approach, based on the work of Maria Montessori who believed in the potential of each individual child. In our classrooms the children learn through hands-on experience, discovering things for themselves.
Otjomuise is a growing suburb of Windhoek with a high influx of migrants looking for work.The Wake up! Centre is situated in the middle of an established residential area of low- and middle income housing. A stone's throw away (about 600m) there is a fast growing 'informal settlement', where newcomers put up makeshift dwellings of corrugated iron and cardboard.
In this informal settlement the municipality provides basic services such as communal taps and toilets but cannot keep up with the high demand for child care facilities and schools. The children attending the Centre come from the residential area around the centre and from the nearby informal settlement. About a third of them can be considered vulnerable: they are children from single parents or grandmothers without a job or with poorly paid work. All our parents and guardians pay some school fees; the amount is set according to income and ranges from N$50 to N$700 a month.
For a young child the key to success in their future school career is Early Childhood Education. A child who has learned to concentrate and focus on a task, who has acquired basic numeracy and literacy skills and who has learned the social skills to function in a school environment, is ready to learn and is likely to do well in school!
At Wake up! Early Education Centre we are making a difference. We see this in our learners every day. The development and changes that can occur in a child between 2 and 6, in the right environment, are remarkable. Social skills, language skills, understanding of basic maths concepts, learning how to hold a pencil to draw and write… these are the foundation of future learning. Our Centre provides an environment where children can learn and develop, and be ready and prepared for learning in Primary School.
As Mr M, the father of two of our students said, “I would like to thank the whole team for the sterling job that you are doing. We have two kids that are here, and over the years we have seen a big, big difference as they grow up. We take care of them over the weekend, and I want to tell you it is a challenge, those few hours that we are with them. During the five days that they are here, it is commendable what the school is doing.“
Children who attend Wake up! advance to Grade 1 with skills that give them a better chance to cope and succeed in their primary school education. As the class teacher of one of our ex- learners wrote in her report: “Shanelle achieved competencies exceptionally well. She came to Grade 1 ready to learn and has an excellent attitude towards her work in the classroom”.
Wake up! Early Education Centre was built with donor funds and does not receive any government funding. We depend on school fees and the support of donors from overseas and within Namibia to cover our running costs. School fees contribute to, but do not cover, our expenses.
In 2016, school fees covered 58% of our expenses and we managed to cover another 7% through further utilisation of the Centre (rental and catering).
Thus, the Centre covers almost two-thirds of its day-today costs but has a shortfall of around one-third. This is where we depend on donors and supporters to help fill this gap.
Our donors are feeling the pinch of Namibia’s financial crisis and are unable to guarantee their ongoing support. We need funding to secure the future of our centre and ensure that we can continue to offer quality pre-school education to children who otherwise would not have access to it.
Day-to-day running costs:
Lunch & snacks for 80 children N$6353 per month
Municipal charges (incl. water & electricity) N$2214 per month
Office & classroom stationery N$1243 per month
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