Barrow’s Renovation of the Early Childhood Development Centre at JHC

Sep 2021 | Friends of Barrow

The Johannesburg Children’s Home is one of the oldest charitable institutions in South Africa, having been founded in 1892. Hundreds of children have passed through the Home since its inception, and it continues to be home to about 60 children. More recently they have opened an Early Childhood Development Centre, which at the moment only has one class due to COVID, but that is growing and focusing on the young children of the community, aged between 2-5 years.
 
The Johannesburg Children’s Home collaborated with Barrow to transform and renovate the building that was previously the Eskom sporting grounds’ clubhouse into an Early Childhood Development centre in 2020. Funda Ngo Thando (Learn with Love) opened its doors in January 2021.
 
The ECD centre was built with the intention of being able to sustain itself, from a business and income perspective, and not have any extra overhead costs to the Johannesburg Children’s Home. As well as this, the ECD centre aims to be a trusted and well-run facility for the children of the community.
Quality early childhood development leads to better literacy and numeracy outcomes, better performance in primary school, social skills, improved attention spans, improved confidence and resilience and a long term interest in learning. It also leads to fewer behavioural issues which can improve family life. With this in mind, JCH established their Early Childhood Development Centre with the focus on school readiness, proper nutrition and supporting family strength.
 
Annette, the director of the JCH, explained that the charges per month for the children are bracketed based on family income, going from R400 pm to R1200 pm, although no one is currently situated in the highest bracket. Those who are financially able are asked to pay for another child to attend the school.

The passion of the teachers at the ECD centre is encouraging! Currently the centre has 20 children who attend from 08h00 to lunch-time. Tiisetso Mokhethi, the principal of Funda Ngo Thando, has her doctorate in early childhood development and child psychology. Already, her impact on the children and the community at large has been undeniable. The hope is in the next few years they will reach their target number of 60 children, between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, who will be attending the school.

In terms of the renovation, Donald Barrow mentioned that the building used to be the old clubhouse on the Eskom property, which included a bar area decorated with beer branded signs. Barrow was able to transform the clubhouse into a fully functional children’s centre, replacing the bar with a small kitchen where they are now able to serve breakfast, snacks and lunch to the children.

As well as the ECD, the Johannesburg Children’s Home are utilising a classroom in the centre as a foundation phase classroom for Grade 1-4 children. COVID has been tricky, meaning sometimes the children haven’t been able to go to school, so using one of the classrooms in the centre for foundation phase teaching has meant none of the children fall behind with their education. Children at the JCH attend many of the schools in the surrounding area and on days they’re not attending school, they study in the ECD classroom.
 
With so many children at the Home, there are 3 school buses which take all 60 children to the surrounding 15 schools. Annette laughed saying “Sometimes the buses have to do two trips to get everyone to school.” But education is one of the Home’s core focuses, as they have shown with their ECD centre.
 
With more donations the ECD Centre will be able to take on more children. They are hoping to find some more international donors and with this support, be in a position to educate more children. Should anyone be in a position to donate or provide any support to the Johannesburg Children’s Home, they would be immensely grateful. You can donate here or contact [email protected]. Barrow is glad to have been involved in the renovation of such an essential community centre.

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