The early years of children’s development are crucial in influencing a range of education, health and social outcomes, and 28-year-old programme manager for the centre for early childhood development (CECD), Jessica Blom really believes in this. She has invested her career so far in the non-profit organisation.
Its philosophy is that by providing quality early childhood development programmes, young children are given a head start in life that enables them to progress through formal schooling and to exit, having completed school successfully. The centre aims to contribute to a society that puts young children and their educational needs first.
The core work of the centre is focused on supporting other centres similar to it, so that children all over South Africa can receive quality early education and care when they attend an ECD centre.
During her earlier years at CECD, Blom developed and managed the Young Leaders for Children programme, a national year-long leadership programme that empowers young non-profit leaders to provide sustainable services to children in South Africa. The highlight of this programme is to create a powerful network of young leaders from across South Africa who can encourage and support one another and drive each other to make a sustainable difference in the lives of children.
In April this year, Blom submitted her master’s thesis while working a fulltime job, convening and lecturing a fourth year University of Cape Town class in the department of social development.
“I am informed in my teaching by my work experience and I am able to use the work I do to bring to life academic and theoretical models. I also believe that students have much knowledge and that they are not ‘blank slates’ who come into a lecture to just learn from me. Social development is not something that happens in the abstract, it is rooted in our everyday realities” she adds.
She also sits on the committee of the Literacy Association of South Africa (Litasa) in the Western Cape on a voluntary basis. Her work for Litasa entails organising workshops and events that promote teaching and research in reading and writing at all levels in South African society. The organisation empowers and assists South African citizens to be literate and be able to develop to their reading potential. She’s is part of this year’s organising Litasa’s annual conference, entitled Masifunde ditale: Literacy and language in a multilingual world. – Welcome Lishivha