2. Nokulunga Ncube & Boitumelong Early Learning Centre

In South Africa, the state does not provide any formal pre-school education. To fill the gap, hundreds of thousands of privately-owned creches and Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) operate across the country to provide caretakers, mostly working mothers, and young children with precious care and basic preparatory education.

While many of these ECDs are not formally registered and often consist of little more than basic child-sitting, Boitumelong Early Learning Centre, in the heart of Alexandra, is an extraordinary example of what can be achieved by women determined to improve the lives of their children and their communities. Today, the ECD handles 115 children and employs more than 20 qualified educators. In addition, the provincial education authorities have just provided the centre with a licence to open foundation phase classes, which essentially may turn it into a foundational phase primary school.

It has come a long way. Boitumelong was started back in 1989 by Marjorie Mkhize, Lunga’s late mother and a formidable figure in Alex’s struggle days. Back then, the creche consisted of a small shack with 13 children in Marjorie’s care. Today, Marjorie’s equally formidable daughter Lunga Ncube has taken charge of the creche. The current premises are beautifully upgraded, a testimony to years of effort, hard work and passion of Marjorie, Lunga and their teams. In 2013, Boitumelong participated in one of LBS’s first Global Experience programmes in Alexandra. A decade later, Lunga fondly remembers the experience and is very keen for a second round.