“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6


ECD is a comprehensive approach to programmes and policies for children from birth to nine years of age with the active participation of their parents and caregivers. Its purpose is to protect the rights of children to develop their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential.

The purpose of the programme is to improve the quality of learning in Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, by preparing vulnerable children for school readiness. The intention is to empower and equip ECD centres’ owners and educators with essential training and enterprise skills, to enable them to stimulate and develop learners holistically.

As South Africa continues to live with high levels of abject poverty, unemployment, increased levels of gender based violence, low levels of intentional child/caregiver engagement and inequality in education. Added to inadequate/displaced housing infrastructures and lack of access to basic amenities and community services. We recognise and prioritise the educational and nutritional needs of babies and children (aged new born – 6 years old) to reduce the impact of the trauma and effects their adult caregivers experience and have inherited due to these socio-economic challenges.

ECD Owners

If the owner of the education hub is informed and skilled at running a business, her team and customers will thrive. We collaborate with a recognised Training and Facilitation Partner (iKhona Business Solutions) who provides annual training on Small Business Management, Tools and Skills for the ECD Owners, using coursework developed specifically for the ECD business environment.

  • Over the three-year partnership, their Skills Training includes:
  • Year 1 – Business Training 101 (Finance & Admin)
  • Year 2 – Business Training 202 (Finance & Fundraising)
  • Year 3 – Business Training 303 (Risk Management & Sustainability)
  • Added to this training, the Domino ECD Team meets with the ECD owners on a monthly basis, to build on their learning through regular reflections and feedback sessions. Accountability and consistency is key to the success of the systems they can implement for sustainability and scalability sake.

ECD Educators

Once you have an owner who is managing her business with efficiency and understanding, prioritising skills and capacitating her team becomes her priority if they are to serve their “customers” with excellence and impact through education.

ECD Partners select one educator per centre, to do their ECD Qualification Training at NELRU (Natal Early Learning Resource Unit) and this provides them with the theoretical and practical training modules. ECD Resource Kits are sourced, from The Unlimited Child (TUC), to ensure educators can implement their learning through the resources to ensure childhood milestones can be achieved and that they have the necessary tools to inspire active learning with their ‘customers’.


Equipping the cooks with the understanding that protein fortified foods bolster nutrition, which enhances the learners’ cognitive capabilities and strengthens their healthy physical growth, which is imperative if the active learning is to take place. The Domino ECD Team partner with the Domino Nutrition Team in this aspect of the intervention, as they have the experience and expertise to eliminate childhood malnourishment through the measurement and monitoring of stunting, wasting and obesity (SWO). The Nutrition Team provide porridge in the morning and soup for lunch and are committed to influencing the way food is prepared, as well as purchased at the centre.

JAMSA (Porridge), Unilever (Soup Mix), RCL Foods (Chicken), Container Ministries (Soup Mix), Canway Oh so Heavenly (Handwash/Sanitisers) are some of our current Nutrition and Hygiene Partners.

Monitoring of hygiene, food preparation and budgeting of this programme, is conducted monthly through the ECD and Nutrition Field Workers.

Mentoring and Monitoring

Systems and Accountability

The impact of any intervention has to measured, adjusted and evaluated against the expected outcomes as to its success, insights and failures. Domino has created our own ECD 150 Tool (based off the DSD Guidelines for Minimum Crèche Requirements) with 150 key measurement indicators to assess, evaluate and track the progress within each ECD. The Field Workers and Monitors visit each ECD centre on a weekly basis to assist with understanding, implementing techniques, skills and lessons learned. This change-management monitoring tool is at the core of the success of this enterprise and educational development programme.

Site Development Forms, are completed each week as follows:

  • Week 1 ECD Owner
  • Week 2 Educators
  • Week 3 Cooks and Cleaners
  • Week 4 Follow up’s with any of the above departments who are flagged/falling behind

Resource Materials

Active Learning Tools incl Resource Kits + ECD 150 Charts

Training the owners, educators, cooks and volunteers is imperative but if you they are not equipped them with inspiring, colourful and curious teaching aids, a sizable portion of the efforts are wasted, as it does not awaken the creative interest in learning. As mentioned in the Educator Training above, Domino purchases the Resource Kits for aged 3-4 and Grade R from The Unlimited Child and the ECD owners become the custodians of the equipment and need to take care of these resources during their three-year partnership with us.

ECD 150 Performance Tracker

The ECD 150 Tool has been developed by the Domino Foundation, in line with the Department of Social Development’s guidelines on ECD centre management. The purpose of the tool is to measure a centre’s performance based on 7 impact areas using 202 indicators. The impact areas are: 1. Premises & Equipment, 2. Active Learning, 3. Working with Families, 4. Business Administration, 5. Health, Safety & Nutrition, 6. Management, Policies & Records, 7. Practitioners & Qualifications. This tool provides a baseline for ECD centre owners to measure their centre’s performance and to work with their Domino Mentors to improve throughout the programme. In 2016, Sibaya commissioned Domino to run a baseline assessment on 15 ECD centres of which 12 were selected to be a part of the Bright Start Programme which began in 2017. This allowed for Domino to track progress against a control group of 3 centres to compare ECD performance.

As you can see from the graph, centres on the Bright Start Programme performed 2.7 times better than their control group.

The strengthening of our Monitoring and Evaluation efforts in terms of the skills and systems being implemented into our partnering ECDs, is yielding great harvest as we build into and support their own capacity to run effective, active and sustainable learning centres.

Yes you can get involved

The Domino Foundation ECD Programme is dependent on local, national and international individuals/families, schools, churches, corporate businesses, trust and foundation donors (financial) and volunteers (time and services) who can support and sustain active learning through early childhood development in the following ways:


Do you have a few hours a week to prepare learning materials, collect recycled resources or time to come and support and encourage the ECD Field Monitors?


Do you have Enterprise, Education or Training Skills to add to a pool of volunteer resources to support the ECD Owners, Educators and Field Staff to excel in their work?


We have lots of super easy options – sign a monthly Direct Debit Order, donate via EFT/Credit Card/PayPal/Zapper or make us your My School Beneficiary!

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Contact Details

Zanele Nzimakwe
Team Leader
Email: ecd@domino.org.za
 +27 (0) 31 563 9605
Fax: +27 (0) 31 563 1001

Nicky Walton
Education Co-Ordinator
Email: education@domino.org.za
+27 (0) 31 563 9605
Fax: +27 (0) 31 563 1001

  • Zanele Nzimakwe