Playing games stimulates children’s minds

Gugulethu Educare Forum chairperson, Nombulelo Mzimkhulu, talks about the importance of the childrens sports day.

Physical activity is great fun and plays an integral role in the education, growth and development of children.

While toddlers love to move around, dance, climb and jump, older children enjoy organised sports and playground games.

Running, swirling, jumping, playing soccer and riding mini bikes were some of the fun activities children could enjoy when the Gugulethu Educare Forum hosted a fun and sports day at NY49 Stadium on Friday March 13.

Gugulethu Educare Forum chairperson, Nombulelo Mzimkhulu, said playing and engaging in physical activity was important for children’s learning and growth.

Ms Mzimkhulu said many educare centres do not have enough space or play equipment which is why they held the sports day.

She said learning for children should not end in the classroom but children must also be exposed to outside play.

Ms Mzimkhulu said as the forum they had taken a holistic approach in moulding the children into becoming better teenagers and adults in the future.

Talking about the forum, she said it was established in the early 90’s with one thing in mind -to be the voice of educare centres in Gugulethu.

The forum represents 30 educare centres. “We want to afford the children the best learning experience possible. We want to see them learn from various aspects so that they become better.

“Our educare centres are not a place where children eat and sleep but they are institutions of development. I wish we had more resources and equipment so that we could do this at least quarterly instead of once a year,” she said.

Asked about challenges facing the educare sector, Ms Mzimkhulu said funding remains a key challenge and it makes it difficult for them to expand their centres.

Ms Mzimkhulu said educare centres are given five-year operating certificates, which allows them to receive funding from the Department of Social Development but once the certificate expires, the funding is stopped-and the centre is deregistered.

She said the government sets unrealistic criteria for centres to meet before they can be registered.

As a result, many centres are operating without certificates, she said, and that affects the salary of the staff.

Ms Mzimkhuku said the funding that they were receiving was also not enough as it was R16 per child.

But despite these challenges, she said they continue to soldier on because they are driven by the passion they have for their work.

Fundani Nathi Educare Centre principal, Nombulelo Ndzunga, said she quit her job in 2008 at the University of the Western Cape to follow her passion of running an educare centre.

When she started, she had two children but the number grew to a point where she decided to register her centre in 2010.

But she said in 2015 the certificate expired and since then she has been trying to register again but it seems she is fighting a losing battle.

Talking about the sport day, she said it was good for the children’s development and helps with cognitive development.

She said she hoped that this could be done more regularly.

Teacher at Luyolo Educare Centre, Lolitha Akinseye, said this was a day for children and it was essential for their learning experience.