SmartStart will host its third SmartStart Unite event on Saturday, 23 November. This year’s celebration intends to honour the achievements of 4 000 ‘SmartStarters’. These are the women who take quality early learning experiences to over 60 000 children across South Africa.
The event will also see the launch of the results of SmartStart’s first-ever outcomes evaluation. In 2015, SmartStart was established with the vision of ensuring that every child in South Africa has the foundations in place to succeed at school and beyond.
The driving focus has been on scale and acceleration — pioneering a new social franchise mechanism that ensures that quality and affordable early opportunities can reach the highest number of children at the quickest possible speed. SmartStart has succeeded in developing a first-of-its-kind systems solution to the challenge of delivering early learning at scale.
The national delivery platform is built around partnership, enabling the franchise to harness and amplify the extensive experience of existing NGOs. This year’s SmartStarters Unite programme will feature workshops, presentations and interactive engagements.
It will also be an opportunity for existing and potential investors and government officials to meet and learn from the inspirational women who are implementing the SmartStart programme on the ground.
The day will culminate with an awards ceremony, where certificates and cash prizes will be handed out to recognise SmartStarters who continue to raise the bar in programme implementation.
SmartStart CEO Grace Matlhape says, “SmartStarters are changing the lives of thousands of children every day. They are the heartbeat of our movement and their hard work and resourcefulness never cease to inspire us.”
“SmartStarters Unite gives us the chance to give proper recognition to all that our early learning practitioners are achieving and doing — often in the most challenging circumstances,” adds Matlhape. “SmartStart sees unemployed and under-employed women as one of the greatest untapped resources in our country. There is a moral, economic and social imperative to release their talents and energy.”
“One of the ways in which we can do this is by empowering them to support young children to grow and develop to their fullest potential. SmartStart is about a social compact — between parents and communities on the one hand and civil society, government and investors on the other,” says Matlhape.
“Each stakeholder has a critical role to play and at SmartStarters Unite we can reflect together on our progress — and look ahead to the next stages of our journey and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead,” concludes Matlhape.