Kallvest says renewed emphasis on little learners can bring big results
Government's decision to spend R6.6 billion on the foundational education phase during the next financial year is to be applauded. The wisdom of this investment is borne out by volumes of international research, which show that pre-primary, and primary school age children, who receive a good education, demonstrate enhanced economic self-sufficiency and are way less likely to become criminals in later life. However, leading security and cleaning services firm, Kallvest, says it believes corporate South Africa needs to shift its emphasis on funding education to focus on the early years.
"Less crime and a better economy – that's exactly why we as Kallvest are choosing the youngest of children to be the beneficiaries of our social investment programmes," says Pierre van Wyk, MD of Kallvest. Via the Bokamoso Education Trust, an NGO that provides access to quality education to learners from disadvantaged communities, one of the children Kallvest is supporting isNtchindi, a Grade 2 pupil at Johannesburg's Vuleka.
"We believe early childhood is the most effective and cost-efficient time to intervene to address inequalities and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty," he says.
This truth is echoed by US economist James Heckman, whose 'Heckman Equation' demonstrates the importance of giving poor families guaranteed access to a decent education for their young children (Heckman Equation:Businessweek.com, 16 January 2014). According to Heckman, each dollar spent at age 4 is worth between $60 and $300 by age 65.
"As companies who're panicking about whether or not there will be enough matriculants and university graduates to employ in the coming years, it's easy to see why corporate South Africa spends so much money on secondary and tertiary education interventions," adds Van Wyk. "But, more money must be invested in younger children in order to realise a greater future return."
A 2011 survey by Helene Perrold and Associates: Big Business in Support of Basic Education (National Business Institute) shows that although 92% of large companies surveyed invested 37% of their budgets in education, most supported high schools (78%), followed by primary schools (72%), and then pre-schools (65%). The authors acknowledged that there is much room for increased investment in the early phase of education, as it provides the foundation for later learning.
Benefits of early childhood education
The benefits of investing in early childhood education are many and varied. According to UNICEF, these include: higher intelligence scores, less grade repetition and higher school completion rates, improved nutrition and health status, as well as improved social and emotional behaviour. There's also a direct correlation with increased earning potential and economic self-sufficiency as an adult.
"Bursaries, sponsorships and training programs are readily available to the work force of today, yet primary school children still suffer from corrupt school principles, dirty toilets and disinterested teachers," he says. "We believe SA business can play a vital role in ensuring that our children are adequately equipped to become the promising leaders of tomorrow, despite their circumstances."
Meaningful community investments
"Our Corporate Social Investment initiatives aim to assist non-profit organisations focused on youth development," says van Wyk. "The real value lies in the undisputed fact that Early Childhood Education (ECE) contributes to the development of healthy children and they in turn contribute to the development of healthy societies."
Kallvest chooses its sponsorships carefully, assessing the track record, management and legitimacy of the organisation, together with the impact that each has on the community.
"For this reason we have decided to support theBokamoso Trust. Their belief that education is the key to unlocking the potential of South Africa's youth, which will shape our collective destiny, really spoke to us."
"We believe that by working together with such NGOs and supporting early education for children today, South African business can ensure a high quality future workforce tomorrow."
Ntchindi has been part of the Bokamoso family since January 2014. He is an enthusiastic, warm and friendly child with a passion for mini-cricket and the outdoors. His mother and father, who work as a domestic worker and gardener, respectively, have been struggling to make ends meet and are thrilled with the financial support that Bokamoso is able to offer them through this donation.
Kallvest actively contributes to meaningful, structural change within their sector. The Kallvest Empowerment Trust, whose beneficiaries are Kallvest PDI stakeholders, owns 26% of the company. Employees receive continuous training at the Kallvest Training Academy, 51% of which is owned by PDI beneficiaries. Selected unemployed youths are trained by Kallvest as security guards and employed across Kallvest sites countrywide.
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