Category: Resourceful Young Children | Formalisation of human resource development | 11 July, 2014 - 11:45← BACK
The Love Trust is a non-profit organisation established in early 2009 to serve vulnerable children and their communities. Our vision is to break the cycle of poverty in South Africa through education and to inspire a new generation of contributing, independent citizens of society that will go back into their community as servant leaders.
This learning brief is aimed at individuals who are interested in launching a social franchise for start-up ECD centres. We point out eight factors to consider before starting such a franchise in rural South African communities. These recommendations are based on our own experience of implementing a social education franchise in KwaZulu-Natal and deals with issues of building solid institutional capacity, ensuring effective communication, enriching human and educational ability, and establishing good administration mechanisms.
BUILDING INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY
As the main franchise provider and office, we advise creating a central “hub”. The hub will act as a central support structure for the ECD centres that you are assisting. It should provide standard support services such as an overview of the curriculum, financial management and governance support, training workshops, printing facilities, Internet services, and personnel who can conduct on-site visits. Services must be geared towards making the ECD centres sustainable businesses. Furthermore, most ECD centres in underprivileged communities often lack the basic operational facilities to run effectively, such as printing and copying services, stationary, educational materials and games for the children. Use the hub as a central resource centre where the staff from these ECD centres can come to use or borrow tools to assist them in their teaching and centre management. You can operate this resource centre like a library, with a simple system of stock control to manage the flow of your material resources.
Running an ECD centre is like running a small business enterprise. The centre managers need to have general business skills, and know the basics of financial and organisational management. As the franchise provider you will need to employ skilled centre managers, and provide them with updated training. Do not assume that all centre leaders have the necessary operational skills. We advise that you make training in office administration and centre management available to your partners. When offering the training, keep the language and illustrations simple, and paper-based.
Many rural ECD centres run at a financial loss due to poor financial management, and a lack of reliable income sources. One reason for this is that, in addition to providing a space for children to go during the day, ECD centres often operate as a community outreach service centres and thus take on more than they can financially handle. The result is that some ECD Centres do not have the necessary facilities and capabilities to provide quality education – which is their main objective. In such settings, your job as the franchise provider is to help ECD centres refocus their activities to reach their core objective in a sustainable way. The central franchise hub and Resource Centre can be a vital lifeline of support in times of difficulty for such ECD centres, and help them get back on track financially. If they close down they can no longer be of service to anyone.
Most ECD centres in rural areas of the country do not have access to computers or the Internet. If your means of communication, or the material resources that you aim to provide are computer or Internet based they will not work. Our solution is to communicate using cellular phone services such as text-messages, WhatsApp, and MixIt. We also provide the ECD centres with printed, hard copies of any programme content. This means factoring in the costs and logistics of printing, distribution and supply.
In rural South Africa, English is not the primary language of education. Most young children in rural ECD centres do not understand English at all and speak a range of other mother tongue languages. As an education franchise provider, you need to source child-friendly resources and materials in languages appropriate for the area you are working in, so as to impact these learners more effectively. This requires effort to find good literary materials, and necessitates dedicated funding.
ENHANCING EDUCATIONAL ABILITY
ECD centre employees who have received once-off skill and competency training do not always automatically apply their knowledge as practice in the work place. While important skills might be learnt as part of their training many ECD practitioners struggle to put into practice their theoretical learning. We have found that the best way to help them apply their knowledge and skills is to 1) support them with on-site visits to enforce what they have learnt, and 2) to provide additional refresher training on a regular basis that focuses on practical implementation. From a franchiser perspective, this requires an extended “hand-holding” period, offering monthly workshops, and providing regular on-site visits to reinforce what has been taught. In practice, this means hiring enough field workers to perform on-site visits and training but we believe this is an essential ingredient in promoting the sustained value of the ECD centre.
Unfortunately, in many rural ECD centres very little teaching takes place due to the lack of language- and age-appropriate curricula available. If possible, source a reliable and fitting curriculum and give it to each ECD centre for teaching purposes. This may also mean providing training on the curriculum.
As the primary franchisee, you must create a central database where all the information about your ECD centres is stored. This database will facilitate and simplify communication, analysis and reporting. Managing the database of all the different ECD centres requires a skilled and details oriented manager, as well as a system of good quality, regular data collection and data capturing. Hire an appropriate employee for this job.
Use the central system to record findings from practical quality-assessments for monitoring purposes. This means performing on-going physical assessments at each ECD centre to assess the condition of the facilities, type of teaching conducted, and the progress of the learners. We suggest that you don’t just conduct the assessments, but also provide feedback on a regular basis so as to reinforce and encourage the staff involvement. You can use this assessment and feedback process to help each ECD centre create a developmental plan to improve the quality of their teaching and learning environment.
In conclusion, a Social Franchise model is an excellent way of positively impacting numerous ECD centres at once. But we suggest that before embarking on a social franchise project, perform a thorough analysis of the environment where you want to operate and consider the above nine factors carefully. Spend quality time in the initial planning stages, because if the initiative is well planned this will definitely ease the implementation phase.
78 Modderfontein Road, President Park, Midrand South Africa
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Social franchising is an excellent way to positively impact numerous ECD centres at once. This learning brief suggests eight factors to consider before starting such a franchise in rural South African communities. These recommendations deal with issues of building solid institutional capacity, ensuring effective communication, enriching human and educational ability, and establishing good administration and monitoring mechanisms.