TREE ECD: Supporting Early Childhood Education In South Africa

Here’s how the TREE ECD organization supports early childhood education in South Africa.

Young Children in TREE
Photo: Ruby Motaung

TREE, which stands for Training and Resources in Early Education, is a nonprofit organization in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal province. TREE trains Early Childhood Development (ECD) workers and gives young children in marginalized communities access to educational support. From affordable day care to toy libraries and organized play groups, TREE provides South African youth with essential resources so they can thrive in childhood and beyond.


Early Childhood
Photo: Ruby Motaung

According to TREE director Ruby Motaung, the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training oversee education in South Africa. Motaung explained that South Africa’s community-based approach to education is productive and benefits the country. She did, however, note a variety of difficulties which ECD programs face.

“Social, political, economic and environmental inequalities contribute to the many challenges that the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector faces in South Africa,” Motaung said.

“Establishing and operating an ECD facility, particularly in under-resourced communities, is further challenged by interpersonal differences, funding support, infrastructure requirements, skills and capacity of…staff, community differences and government regulations.”


TREE Graduates
Photo: Ruby Motaung

TREE offers non-accredited short courses for educators and hosts a parenting workshop which teaches caregivers how to create a healthy, supportive home environment for young children. Moreover, TREE offers a variety of classes about health, sanitation and hygiene which equip ECD educators to advocate for children’s holistic well-being. The organization also has a Toy Shop which sells handmade wooden toys, including cars and block puzzles. Furthermore, TREE runs several community toy libraries where parents loan, borrow and exchange toys for children to enjoy.

To further support the children who play in the toy libraries, TREE offers nutritious meals daily at on-site soup kitchens. Beyond these initiatives, TREE runs “Power Girls,” an after-school program which equips girls to spark change in their communities. Girls remain in the program for seven consecutive years, typically from age nine to 16. Further information about these and other programs can be found in TREE’s brochure as well as on the organization’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.


Photo: Ruby Motaung

There are a variety of ways to get involved with TREE and support their efforts to improve young children’s access to education. Donate on TREE’s website to support the organization’s community centers, which give local neighborhoods access to nutritional food gardens. TREE also accepts donations for their toy library, educational toys and toy librarian training. Another option is to sponsor an educational practitioner and contribute funds to equip teachers who guide young children.

Motaung pointed to TREE as a local program which seeks to advance education throughout all of Africa.

“TREE’s vision is to become a globally recognized institution and a thought leader in the advancement of universal and quality early childhood education throughout the African continent,” Motaung said.

“TREE’s mission is to facilitate and enable universal early childhood development through capacity building partnerships, advocacy work, resource mobilization and knowledge management on a national scale and beyond.”


Hannah Larson

Contributing Editor

A southern California native, Hannah is a traveler and thrill seeker whose love of writing is matched only by her passion for adventure. From ziplining alongside Niagara Falls to paddleboarding in Lake Itasca, she is always on the lookout for exciting experiences in beautiful places. Her favorite national parks include the Great Smokies, Sequoia and Glacier because of the spectacular mountain views.

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