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Siyakwazi Early Childhood Development Programme

Siyasizas Celebrate Their Great Achievement


Did you know that 80% of the brain in developed within the first 1000 days of a child’s life? Or that, according to the Statistician-General’s report, 47% of children aged 0 – 6 do not receive early childhood learning. Five learners who recently graduated from their Early Childhood Development (ECD) learnership aim to change this.

Mpume Nzimakwe, Veronica Nyanki, Bongekile Ngeleka, Nomzama Ngeleka and Siza Mvuna’s learning journey towards becoming qualified ECD Practitioners started 18 months ago. At the time the ladies were working as volunteers, referred to as Siyasizas, at a non-profit organisation called Siyakwazi. 

Based in the Ugu District in KZN, Siyakwazi, together with Rise, plays a key role in the implementation and success of the Early Childhood Development programme.

“At Siyakwazi, we believe that all children can learn. We create individualised learning opportunities for all children to unlock their full potential, enabling them to thrive and overcome any barriers preventing success.  We support children under the age of 7 who experience particular barriers to learning arising from disability, learning difficulties or circumstances. Siyakwazi is committed to promoting inclusion of children with barriers to learning within early childhood development (ECD) centres, schools and communities. Our three key programmes focus on promoting inclusion of children with disabilities and/or learning barriers, as well as promoting school readiness for all children, through: 1. Non-centre based (NCB) programme, 2. ECD programme and 3. Schools programme,” says Cathy Pike, founder of Siyakwazi. 

The learners that have just graduated are all Siyasizas who are trained to implement the 3 important programmes mentioned above. Siyasizas, meaning ‘we support’, are local young people passionate about young children and have various roles within the community.

The NCB Siyasizas conduct home visits to provide holistic support for children with disabilities or barriers to learning while the ECD Siyasizas promote inclusion in ECD centres as well as provide catch up programmes for all children. 

Mpume, Veronica, Bongekile, Nomzama and Siza play a vital role in the community. “This learnership provided me with the opportunity to assist the school and mothers in my community, which makes me feel empowered. I have had the opportunity to assist family and friends and have met great people,” says Veronica.

 “Education and understanding a child’s development is very important,” adds Nomzama.

Cathy lists some additional benefits that these Siyasizas bring to the community :

  • Assist in the early identification and early intervention of any types of barriers children may face in the community.
  •  They encourage and facilitate parental involvement and participation which benefits families and children, supporting early learning.
  • Facilitate disability and inclusion awareness and understanding which supports acceptance amongst all people within the community.
  • Foster an awareness of the importance of early learning which is starting to create more opportunities for all learners to reach their full potential.

Now that these learners have completed their learnership and are official ECD Practitioners, they are optimistic about what the future holds.

“I can now find a job doing what I love, working with children,” says Nomzama. 

“This qualification will allow me to give back to my community. Anything is possible,” adds Siza. 

“This learnership has given me the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the ways of teaching and assisting children. I feel as though I have gone from zero to hero,” comments Veronica.

To the sponsors of this learnership, Rise's valued clients, KSB Pumps and Valves and Abbott Laboratories, a Siyasiza has this to say, “I would like to take this time to thank you for sponsoring my studies and showing faith in me. I will always be grateful. I appreciate your kindness towards me as my life has changed for the better. Thank you.”

There are many more Siyasizas looking to solidify their knowledge and careers in teaching through the Early Childhood Development NQF 4 learnership. Contact Rise at  to learn how you can become a part of this impactful initiative. 


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