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The Learning Initiative Trust

The Learning Initiative Trust


Contact Details

Beverley du Plooy
Tel: 021 300 1464
         076 954 2161   

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The Learning Initiative Trust

learning initiative

TLI was established in 2015, with the aim of making professional services available to children from disadvantaged communities to ensure that they can reach their potential in school and beyond. Research has repeatedly shown that early identification and intervention is crucial for optimal functioning and self-actualisation.  In 2016 TLI partnered with the Western Cape Department of Social Development to develop, test and implement a ground-breaking, therapeutic intervention that promotes holistic child development in children aged 4-5 years. TLI’s interventions include the Blocks4Growth and Step-Up programme.

The goal of the TLI Block4Growth and Step-Up Programs is to equip young developmentally at-risk children in poor communities with the tools, techniques, enthusiasm and resilience they need to thrive in school. The main objectives include:

  • To prepare children in low-income communities to be adequately prepared for Grade 1
  • To improve the poor education outcomes in the Foundation Phase
  • To minimise poor school results, drop-outs and associated social and economic consequences and better prepare children for formal school
  • To equip parents with parenting skills
  • To equip ECD teachers (practitioners) with knowledge and skills to promote holistic child development

The Blocks4Growth Programme targets at risk children aged 4-5 attending pre-selected registered creches. The programme also targets the parents of these children as well as ECD practitioners. Step-Up is an extension of the Blocks4Growth programme, aimed at children aged 5–6, who require further support to gain the foundational skills they need for optimal school performance.

Each child in the programme is screened by a therapist to identify those who are developmentally at risk. The results also serve as a baseline for the year-end programme evaluation and the basis for referrals for children requiring additional support. Children identified to be at risk are enrolled in bi-weekly 45 minutes long therapy sessions with a designated therapist /programme implementor and a facilitator. Each group consists of a maximum of nine children. Attendance and progress are tracked for each session. 

Learning initiative 1

Parents are invited to attend and observe a therapy session once a term. Parents are also invited to attend two Parent Workshops in their area of residence. A core focus of the workshops is to equip parents with the basic information, practical skills, attitudes and resources they need to engage in their child’s learning and development. They receive educational packs and have the opportunity to download the Care Up application which provides additional resources. Parents involvement is further enhanced by sending homework twice a week for each parent to complete with their child.

Mentoring of practitioners is fundamental to the sustainability of the programme. As such, capacity building sessions are offered to all practitioners on a weekly basis. This provides an opportunity for the organisation to transfer therapeutic skills and initiatives into the regular classroom and reach more children.

Outcomes for children: Based on results obtained from the Early Learning Outcomes Measure (ELOM), a South African standardised pre-school child assessment tool, following the intervention by TLI, the majority of children who were developmentally at risk are now on par with their peers. Practitioners also identified the following improvements in the children partaking in the program: 

  • Increased confidence
  • Social and emotional maturity
  • Improved concentration
  • Better processing
  • Greater self-regulation and impulse control

Outcomes for practitioners: Based on feedback forms completed by practitioners they expressed an increased awareness and understanding of their roles as well as increased knowledge and skills to stimulate children. Informal feedback from the therapists highlighted the degree of improvement experienced in practitioner’s skill and knowledge where TLI have had a presence for a number of years.

Outcomes for parents: Parents expressed an increase in awareness of their child’s additional developmental needs, and learning potential; an increased understanding of their role in their child’s developmental progress; an increase in knowledge, skills and motivation to stimulate their child at home; and increased paternal involvement.

Last updated:

22 November 2021