Green Orchards crèche in Orange Farm township, which is about 45km from Johannesburg, South Africa, would be exceptional even if Guguletu Baloi, the principal, didn’t put in extra effort. It would be remarkable even if she didn’t go to the lengths she has done to make it a model place of learning for babies and children up to the age of six. This is because in 2012 the nursery school was chosen to be refurbished as part of JAM’s makeover programme. The Canadian donor team completed the JAM Makeover.
But the crèche is extraordinary not only because it is a fun, stimulating place to learn, but because of the person heading it up – Guguletu Baloi. Green Orchards crèche is as well maintained as it was after the renovations were done. And, the improvement of the facility didn’t end there. She saved profits derived from attendances and had children’s toilets installed. Guguletu also arranged for a sunshade to be installed, that was not part of the Makeover. That’s not all – she’s had walkways built and has more plans for children’s walkways.
Guguletu understands the importance of lifelong learning and paid for her education to be furthered. She has an Early Childhood Development National Qualifications Framework level 4 certificate. She’s also put her own needs aside for the sake of improving the school – by moving out of her office and moving into a smaller space so that she can have a classroom built in the larger area, to allow more children to benefit from this first-rate learning environment.
She made the improvements to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre to comply with regulatory requirements. One of the benefits of this is that the school receives government funding to provide the children with a cooked lunch.
“What JAM did in 2012 was to inspire me. The Makeover opened doors. It made the certification of the building happen, and from then on we could continue to improve the centre. After we received certification, I received government funding for food and now the children have the nutritious JAM porridge for breakfast. The ECD provides a snack and a cooked lunch,” she says.
Many of us can reach back into childhood to identify a teacher who influenced us profoundly. No doubt Guguletu will be one of these to those children who go on to school from her crèche. After all, she’s making her mark and leaving behind a better world.