The Little Elephant Pre-Primary School started in 1991 (before the end of apartheid) as a non-racial school. As the school grew, the need for trained pre-primary teachers became evident, and in 1993 LETCEE (Little Elephant Training Centre for early Education) was established. LETCEE started training women in ECD skills in January 1993.
The organization has grown from a small, part time initiative, training 6 women in our first year, to a registered NPO training more than 300 women annually in 2009. LETCEE is also working with three rural communities implementing our innovative SiSi Model of Family Based ECD provision. The training facility has grown from a single room to a centre, which consists of a training room, a residential block with two dormitories, kitchen and bathroom, as well as offices and waste storerooms.
In our 17 years of training more than 3500 women have benefited from the high quality training offered. We trained practitioners for the National Reception Year Pilot Project in 1995 and as part of the ECD Consortium won the tender in KZN to conduct the nationwide audit of ECD provisioning for the European Union in 2000. We also completed 8 learnerships for the Expanded Public Works Programme in 2009.
LETCEE’s current SiSi projects arise from a prior project known as Izingane Zethu (“Our Children”) which started in 2001 in the Kranskop area, 30km east of Greytown. This project was funded by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and was a partnership between LETCEE, The Valley Trust and Training Resources for Early Education (TREE). The Izingane Zethu Project partnership was in itself an acknowledgement of the pioneering type of work that we were undertaking in terms of developing accurate community databases, and their contribution to ECD for rural and deep rural children. The three partners of Izingane Zethu have since each developed their own focal areas of concern and so this partnership dissolved in 2008.
LETCEE felt that the Izingane Zethu project was worth replicating in other communities, however we felt that some aspects of the approach could be improved upon. We learnt that the approach had to be developmental rather than welfare-oriented, however still acknowledging that there were occasions when community members needed immediate relief such as food or blankets. We also realized that ECD could not exist on its own, but had to be linked to the wider life of the children in their families and communities, including aspects such as nutrition and bereavement. One of the greatest realizations was that there was a need for a real rather than token partnership with the community which included decision-making.
These insights lead to the development of the Siyabathanda Abantwana (now called the SiSi) model and the establishment of the Siyabathanda Abantwana project in 2007 and the Sikhulakahle and Eshane projects in 2008. Our model for Family Based ECD was pronounced as a model of excellence by Unicef in 2009.
Our work has attracted attention both locally and internationally, with LETCEE recognized by the principals and education officials in the area as a provider of quality training and on-site support of trainees. The University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, as well as two international universities, acknowledge the value and quality of our work.
LETCEE staff members also currently serve on numerous provincial and national advisory bodies and in the past three years our work has been presented at 9 conferences, both nationally and internationally.
For LETCEE's early history, click here.