iMobiMaMa: Tackling early childhood development early

Dr. Carol Thomas with the iMobiMaMa mKitPregnancy is the starting point for early childhood development (ECD) intervention. Before a child is born, both the opportunities and risks for its development, and capacity for early learning, are numerous. Quality antenatal care is therefore an important component of a comprehensive package of ECD services. The World Health Organisation sees antenatal care as, “an opportunity to promote the use of skilled attendance at birth and healthy  behaviours such as breastfeeding, early postnatal care, and planning for  optimal pregnancy spacing”.

In South Africa, access to quality antenatal care is not available to all women. Cost, inconvenience, stigma (sometimes related to teenage pregnancy or pregnancy out of wedlock) and inefficiency serve as hindrances to pregnant women’s desire and ability to access antenatal care. iMobiMaMa, the brain child of Dr. Carol Thomas, intends to mitigate these factors, increase access to quality antenatal care and, as a result provide, the ideal foundation for a child’s early learning. It also provides an opportunity for job creation.

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Mapping Southern-Africa's word-gap (3 November 2016)

babywearinglenavestWe learn to walk by watching others walk. We learn to talk in a similar manner. When it comes to the opportunities to do the latter, however, the odds are sometimes stacked against us. Specifically, research suggests that children raised in poorer socioeconomic areas are also raised in poorer linguistic environments, and this has implications for their ability to understand, speak and make sense of their world.

 However, we have little or no evidence of this “word gap” in Africa. A new technology, allows us to address this gap by analyzing children’s linguistic environments.

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On Learning from Failure (1 November 2016)

image of 9Needs“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” – Bill Gates, 1995

The greatest opportunity for learning comes from the instances where things do not go as planned. Our unsuccessful attempt to use crowdsourcing as a means of identifying and mapping community-based ECD services is a case in point.

In partnership with Code for South Africa, the Innovation Edge worked to find a method of locating ECD centres that are not currently known to the Department of Social Development (the Department responsible for registering, supporting and monitoring ECD), with the ultimate aim of keeping children safe and improving the quality of service provision.

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hearScreen: A case study in repurposing ideas (12 Aug 2016)


This year, at the South African Innovation Summit, we will be challenging innovators to adapt their existing ideas so that they benefit children under age 6.  For example, a mobile application game can be used to teach the basics of early development to parents; or a data geo-mapping programme can be adapted to track the services provided to children. From our own work, a successful adaptation of an innovative idea to an early learning application is our project (and SAIS 2015 pitching den winner) hearScreen.  Here’s how it happened.  

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Nominate Africa's next ECD leader

We are excited to announce that we are taking nominations for the next cohort of Global Leaders for Young Children Africa run by the World Forum Foundation and in collaboration with the African Early Childhood Network (AfECN).  The Innovation Edge will be sponsoring two Global Leaders to participate in the 2016-2018 cohort.

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