Making a difference in children’s everyday lives in South Africa

Seeding and growing human potential is at the heart of sustainability at Sappi–beginning with our own people and extending to the communities where we operate around the world.

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children” said Nelson Mandela in a speech at the United Nations in 2002. Decades on at Sappi we continue to make that difference through our ongoing investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD).

Global evidence shows that investment in quality ECD programmes for young children significantly reduces poverty and inequality across society with a cascade of positive impact on educational and life outcomes.

Against this backdrop, we've partnered with two organisations to help ECD practitioners to reach NQF4 level of proficiency (equivalent to a matriculation certificate – in South Africa, the highest level of schooling).

In KwaZulu-Natal province in 2014, we partnered with local not-for-profit organisation Training and Resources in Early Education (TREE) to train 25 ECD practitioners from communities adjacent to Sappi Forests’ plantations. In 2016, Sappi expanded the programme to upskill 36 more trainees, including 18 crèche workers and 18 workers in charge of informal playgroups, also from our neighbouring communities.

In Mpumalanga province, we developed an ECD Centre of Excellence at the Sappi Elandshoek community in partnership with Penreach, a social impact organisation working towards educational excellence in disadvantaged rural communities. Practitioners are taught to implement programmes to promote holistic child development, including:

  • attention to physical health and daily hygiene
  • structured playgroup programmes
  • improving parental support
  • facilitating grant funding from the government

They are also taught how to transform material and resources on hand – such as paper, wood and fabric – into useful educational toys and teaching aids.