Early Childhood Development describes the learning and developmental stages from 0 to 6 years old. During this time, the learning and development curve achieved by children is exponential, unmatched by any other learning and development curve achieved later in life. Statistics show that without adequate Early Childhood Development, young people are unlikely to be admitted into Further Education and Training, and are therefore unlikely to be employed. Commissioned by The Nelson Mandela Foundation, the following photo essay aims to spotlight and celebrate practitioners in this sector, who often work tirelessly beyond the call of their duty. Who mother communities for little to no wage. These are all practitioners based in the Gauteng region.
Connie Mahlangu principal at Ukukhanya Kwezwe Creche in Alexander, sits in the creche’s sick bay. "My immediate community demanded the service,  but for me this is more than a job it is making sure we develop, look after and most importantly keep the young ones safe while the parents are at work. " 
Jeanette Mesina principle at My Little Angels in Germiston. “ About ten years back I started this centre with one teacher and since then we have worked our way up to 105 kids we care for. Every child who walks in here has a special and particular need we have to cater for.”
Rossinah Malope, principle at The Chosen Daycare & PreSchool in Katlehong. 

"In 2008 I approached my late pastor about utilizing a part of the church space and converting it into a child friendly space to operate my daycare from. Upon getting the space we started with 5 children, by the end of that year there were 17 children. Out of that group we graduated 6. "
Desiree Noah principal at Suikerbekkies in Pretoria in the library and sick bay of the creche. “ I had no intention of coming to the ECD sector. I was a bank manager for 21 years. I resigned from the banking sector for personal reasons.”    
Bongile Kabini principle at Sunshine Preschool, Diepsloot. “The care the children receive from us is very essential because we have them for majority of the day, so it is very important we make sure they receive the best care and stimulation. My favorite days are the busy and chaotic ones where the young ones have us on our tippy toes all day.”

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