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Africa A+ Schools set to ignite creativity in early education

Wednesday, 21 October 2015   (0 Comments)
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The Cape Craft + Design Institute (CCDI) is excited to embark on a new project, the Africa A+ Schools network – an initiative that supports member schools in nurturing their students’ creativity, primarily through the arts, in the belief that this is what children need for lifelong success.

The network is a partnership between the CCDI and Oklahoma A+ Schools (OKA+) and is funded by Standard Bank and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT). The Africa A+ Schools network views the nurturing of creativity in schools as one way of responding to South Africa’s social and economic challenges.

To alleviate unemployment, poverty and social injustice the country needs people with an entrepreneurial and problem-solving mindset who have individual agency and can come up with innovative solutions. An entrepreneur is a person who can see and create opportunities where others mostly only see a problem. For children to grow up to be entrepreneurs, innovators and opportunity makers, they need to be taught from an early age to develop their creativity and imagination so that they can become active citizens who contribute to solving problems and creating new value.

CCDI ECD project director, Anya Morris, says:  “When we look ahead to our children’s future, we actually don’t know what’s in store for them in 15 years’ time when they leave school and prepare for adulthood. But it’s generally agreed upon that innovative thinking, problem-solving, collaborating with others, using the imagination and being able to sift through information and deciding on what is relevant and how to apply it in an imaginative way – are the key skills that will be needed.”

This approach resonates with the vision of the project funders Standard Bank and DEDAT. Both take a long-term view that if entrepreneurship, problem solving and innovation are the key to South Africa’s future then schools need to focus on nurturing children’s creativity from an early age.

Because the development of entrepreneurs and innovators needs to start from an early age, the Africa A+ Schools network is beginning at the preschool level.

To get the ball rolling, the CCDI is inviting organisations working in the early childhood development field to nominate preschools to apply and become members of the Africa A+ Schools network. Three more preschools will be added each year for the next two years after which an invitation to primary schools will be initiated.


Also eight South African facilitators – called Fellows in A+ terms – consisting of ECD specialists as well as artists from diverse disciplines have been recruited to support the three member preschools. The Fellows are being orientated in the A+ philosophy by facilitators from OKA+ who visited Cape Town recently to lead a Fellows retreat.


As in Oklahoma, the Africa A+ Schools network will offer schools professional development and ongoing schools support that will prepare teachers to think more creatively about how to present their curriculum in collaborative and hands-on ways that will get the learners excited about learning.

View our video of ECD specialist and Africa A+ Fellow Veronica Nicholas, principal of iThemba preschool in Cape Town speaking about the importance of creativity in schools. The CCDI is also running a crowdsourcing campaign inviting designers to re-imagine the future of early childhood education in South Africa. The campaign ends of 6 November and there is $10 000 of prize money up for grabs. Find more information here


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