When Token’s mother, a domestic worker, first enrolled him in preschool, he would not speak or interact with other children. Token is autistic. Although he still has special needs, he now speaks, dances, counts and plays with his classmates. The importance of preschool cannot be underestimated. It’s the foundation of a child’s lifelong learning. Yet in South Africa, only about a third of preschool-aged children are registered. That number is far greater for children from poor families.
We have witnessed many stories like Token’s. That’s why we’re especially proud to announce the launch of a new preschool audio education initiative called SoundStart. GROW, a leading educare organisation helping to raise the standards of preschool education in South Africa is our main partner. Our solar and wind-up Lifeplayer MP3 will be integrated into over-crowded and under-resourced preschools in Cape Town’s peri-urban townships. The Lifeplayers will provide locally created music, songs, and stories that will develop listening and memory skills. Also, because the programming is highly interactive, the children will develop fine and gross motor skills development.
SoundStart is an important addition to preschools which can serve as “holding pens” while their parents work long hours as domestic workers and day labourers. Due to a cut in government early education funding, preschool teachers are rarely formally trained. Many are tasked with caring for 30-40 children in a small classroom. For part of the day, the Lifeplayer will act as the teacher, engaging the students through high-quality interactive audio content while providing a break for teachers and caregivers.
Placing Lifeplayers in preschool classrooms will help children build the learning foundation they need to succeed once they enter primary school. Children like Token will have a better chance to create a positive future.
Please consider donating to SoundStart. Few donations are as cost-effective and effective with long-term benefits. Any contribution helps. Thank you!