Early Education

South Africa has prioritized universal access to quality early education by 2030. South Africa Partners and our community-based partner, Masibumbane Development Organisation, have joined the national effort to identify models to support the scale up of high-quality Early Childhood Development (ECD).

Working in partnership with government, the local community, other NGOs and our academic partners University of Fort Hare (East London) and Wheelock College (Boston), our program, Wraparound ECD, will serve an urgent local need while developing and evaluating strategies for early learning.


Wraparound ECD

The goal of South Africa Partners’ ECD programming is to improve the school readiness of young children from low-income communities in South Africa so that they can be successful when they enter school at age 5. From infancy, children within these communities fall behind their middle class peers in early language and literacy development, opening up a gap in later learning outcomes that is difficult and costly to close.

Our approach is simple but innovative – within a target community, we look for multiple ways to enrich children’s daily experiences from birth to age 5 and support their emotional and intellectual development. Reaching from the home to day care centers to everyday environments, we are developing a suite of interventions — multiple “touches” informed by empirical and applied research — to help ensure these children are not falling behind before they even start. We call this model Wraparound ECD.

What Success Will Look Like for Wraparound ECD

south africa early education

Sifunda Ngokuthetha

(“We Learn by Talking Together“)

Promoting Caregiver-Child Interactions in Everyday Settings


Sifunda Ngokuthetha (“We Learn by Talking Together”) is a pilot program designed to help close the “word gap” by encouraging caregivers and young children to engage in conversation and early learning in everyday environments. South Africa Partners places colorful signage in the local language, isiXhosa, in supermarket and health clinic waiting areas with questions that prompt adults and children to talk together. The signs are illustrated by award-winning South African artist Xanelé Purén. This community outreach pilot project is funded by Innovation Edge, a consortium of ECD funders in South Africa. Read the project blog here.

Did you know?

Landmark academic studies by Dr. Betty Hart and Dr. Todd R. Risley identified a vast gap in the number of words heard by poor children and their wealthier peers from birth to age three. This “word gap” contribute to poorer children falling behind in their language development, opening an “achievement gap” between the two groups when they enter school at age 5.

We build partnerships with purpose.