Entrepreneur Ensures Children Have Access to Early Education

The beginning of the year is usually a challenging time for parents as some struggle to find preschools for their children to attend.

By Phindiwe Maka

To ensure that children have access to early education, Bakang Matlaopane, a Pretoria resident, father and social entrepreneur decided to open a preschool to ensure that children in his community have access to quality early education. He opened Intellectual Village in 2021, this after he noticed that children lost out on learning opportunities because of limited preschools in the area.


Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey revealed that the percentage of children in the 0-4 years age group that remained at home with a parent or guardian increased from 57.8% in 2019 to 64.6% in 2021. The percentage of children that attended Grade R, pre-school, nursery school, crèche, and edu-care centres decreased from 36.8% in 2019 to 28.5% in 2021.


Nurturing The New Generation


Intellectual Village offers a personalized learning approach that facilitates children’s development by providing them with the best tools to reach their full potential. According to an Early Learning Resource Unit report, “Research shows that early childhood years are critical for the development of human potential. The period before birth and the first seven or eight years of life is a time of rapid physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and moral development.”


“In the current education system, resources are allocated in the later years of schooling, and I felt that at that stage it is already too late,” said Matlaopane the Founder and School Operations Manager of Intellectual Village.



A Different Approach


At Intellectual Village, children are introduced to a selection of classes that teach them essential skills that they will need throughout their lives and exposes them to tools that align with where the world is going. The classes include coding, gardening as well as social and emotional wellness learnings amongst many more.


“The learning is dynamic and play based. Coding teaches logical thinking and problem solving which are skills needed throughout life,” said Matlaopane.


He added that emotional learning equips children with skills on how to not only be aware of their thoughts and emotions but also how these can affect their behaviour. He believes that children need to be taught how to self-regulate because at any given time thoughts and emotions will either be empowering or disempowering.


Interactive and Educational Learning in Early Education


The Thrive by Five Index which is a survey on preschool children shows that 65% of children aged four to five attending early leaning programmes in South Africa are failing to thrive and are not meeting the expected standards for early learning, physical growth or both.


This is a major concern because these children will start Grade R at a disadvantage, with possible long-term implications on their education and standard of living. More efforts need to be invested to ensure that children have access to educational learning tools at home and at school.


Intellectual Village focuses on mental stimulation and positive affirmations in their teaching modules. The preschool has adopted the “I can” mentality. “We have phrases that children recite to encourage them to adapt a positive attitude.,” said Matlaopane.


By providing children with exposure to essential skills and building up their self-esteem through representative and educational learning tools, the preschool facilitates the development of children during their very crucial years.


Government cannot address challenges in the early education sector alone and social entrepreneurs are encouraged to step in and uplift their communities by starting businesses to implement solutions.

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