Scene 3: Meeting with the CECD


Throughout our prep term, we researched articles from the Centre of Early Childhood Development (CECD). After some delay, we were finally able to meet with Eric, the director of the centre. Our group went into the meeting with a fairly broad agenda to see what kind of things the CECD had to offer, whether knowledge or skills.

Cast of Characters:

Eric Atmore and ECD Team


After a long cab ride, we arrived outside of what appeared to be a gated residential community. With a bit of confusion on our faces, a middle-aged man stood in the doorway and gave a quick holler. It was clear we were in the right location and began to walk through the yard to the doorway. We were greeted with smiles and our choice of coffee or tea as we entered. As we walked down the halls, we all shared the same feeling of déjà vu. We were immediately reminded of our meeting with David Bell we had during our prep period in A-Term.

We sat at a round table in Eric’s office. Eric seemed to have a glow about him as he told us more about himself and the CECD with a smile. The wall behind me was filled with inspirational quotes. One that stuck out to me was “Africa isn’t for sissies.” Next to this wall of quotes, the African Continent was formed by a series of photos. Eric pulled out a legal pad and our conversation began.

Actions and Observations:

Eric began by asking us why we had come to meet with him. We explained that we were looking for more information about their NGO: what types of communities they work with and what kind of work they do. He began to explain how they worked with crèches in and around Cape Town, then he paused and asked how much time we had to spend with him. We replied that we would spend as much time talking as he had for us.

He began with explaining education in South Africa and it’s refocusing after the apartheid era had ended. During the year Mandela was elected president, the Centre for Early Childhood Development was created to assist in improving the education of children between the ages of 0 and 6 years of age. The types of crèches that the CECD works with are the ones with the highest need of improvements and are likely to be located in informal settlement or areas of high poverty. The CECD does much work with upgrading these crèches to meet the government standards to become registered and eligible for subsidy or financial support of some kind. The CECD has not only upgraded facilities but has built over 25 crèches from the ground up, including fundraising and finding the financial support necessary to make these projects possible.

After explaining all of this to us, Eric asked us why we were here in South Africa and what we hoped to accomplish. First we told him about WPI and the IQP process that we had to participate in. We explained our goals as a project centre to develop sustainable systems to improve the lives of people, mostly in informal settlements around Cape Town. Then we began to dive into our specific project work in Langrug discussing the experiences we had after visiting the crèches there, the problems we saw at these crèches, and our struggle to find solutions that we had the power and means to implement. He quickly became very interested, asking questions about Nobathembu’s crèche and the possibilities for upgrading to allow for registration. We discovered that this was most likely not a facility’s that could be registered due to many hurdles. However, he was very interested in the possibility of creating a new centre from the ground up. We talked about the connections that we, as a project centre, strive to make and explained that the possibility of a project for next year to grow out of further meetings with him would be a dream to us. After much discussion and sharing our contact information as well as our advisors information with him we concluded our meeting.



The possibility to work with the CECD in the future would be a great accomplishment in the eyes of our group. Our group came here with the mission of making connections with NGO’s, crèche owners, and communities to allow for further progress and this is exactly the type of connections we are looking for. Though our group specifically may not move forward in working with the CECD to create or upgrade a crèche in our last few weeks here, our hope is that we can connect Eric to the Cape Town Project Centre, allowing for the theme of improving crèches to be integrated in Cape Town projects in future years.