Farmers throughout South Africa should follow the example set by SAFE at its Bonathaba and Zwartfontein farms near Wellington, says pre-school teacher, Ingrid Broodryk.
For many years Broodryk did a lot of work through Amos, the Christian agricultural organisation, working with crèches on various farms including Bonathaba and Zwartfontein, which are operated by SAFE.
“I regarded the work as my tithe, and I became more and more involved at these two farms. After a while, Dries van Rooyen, SAFE’s general manager of farming operations, asked me to become more officially involved and SAFE now pays me a fee for doing what I love.”
Broodryk was asked to set up programmes for the two crèches, which SAFE is replicating on its farms around the country.
“Many farmers prefer to invest in equipment and buildings on their farms, rather than their employees. But SAFE believes in investing in its workers, so we are establishing crèches on the farms that didn’t previously have them, and the existing crèches are being systematically upgraded and resources are being laid on,” says Van Rooyen.
Every Monday Broodryk visits the two Boland farms and drops off the lesson plans for the week, outlining what teachers need to work on. SAFE then distributes the lesson plans to all its other farms.
“I also supply all the teaching aids, for instance, if the theme for the week is traffic awareness, the lesson plans will include various traffic signs as well as related drawings for the children to colour in.
“I have regular sessions with the teachers, providing support where needed, and just talking about day to day things that they might need to discuss.”
Once a term, the teachers attend a morning class in early childhood development. These programmes cover a range of activities teachers can do with the children, as well as subjects like personal development and child psychology.
“We invest a lot of time and effort in training the teachers, so it’s sad when some of them leave to go elsewhere. But I look at it this way: wherever they go, they will be able to pass on what they have learned here, so in that way other communities will benefit,” says Broodryk.
“I also have regular sessions with the parents, discussing all sorts of possible problems in the community. We are very strict about noting any injuries to the children. For one thing, parents could easily claim the injury happened at school, but sadly, a few parents are inclined to abuse their children and we take this very seriously and address the problems where needed.
“I tell them their children are gifts from God, and it’s their privilege to raise them. We have a wonderful set of parents on the farms, and between us we have built up trust over the years.
“Bonathaba and Zwartfontein are well-resourced, thanks to the backing of SAFE. Next year we will start decorating the new crèches on the two farms, and I have permission to paint the boundary walls in bright colours to make the schools more child-friendly.”
Experienced pre-school teacher, Ingrid Broodryk, with some of the Bonathaba and Zwartfontein crèche teachers at the early childhood development class in Wellington.