The Patriot Woman’s KEITEBE KGOSIKEBATHO speaks to two women who own and run pre-schools in Gaborone
Boitumelo Tema; Wonderkids Day Care Centre
The 40-year-old bubbly mother of three reveals that opening up a preschool was never part of her plans. That came by chance. As a top chess player, and one of the best performing female chess players not only in Botswana but in the region, Tema says she used to offer after school chess training to students. As time went on word got out and her business grew. In the process she also realised that taking in a student and expecting their parents to come and pick them up after an hour of training was becoming an inconvenience for most parents, which ultimately meant she ended up minding a number of them.
This occurrence, she says, begot a business idea. “I started thinking of how I could make money out of it,” she said. Her home was also becoming too small for the number of students who were after her chess training. She looked for a bigger place and found it in block 9 Gaborone. Initially the pre-school part was supposed to be just a side occupation, with chess training taking preference. To her surprise, it outgrew the chess training leading her to put more focus into it and Wonderkids Day-care centre became fully operational.Currently business is going well and Tema can’t complain though it hasn’t been an easy road for her. She reveals that when she started nobody wanted to fund her, the Citizen Economic Development Agency (CEDA) told her point blank that they doubted her business’ viability.
After a struggle, she got funding from the National Development Bank (NDB). Tema holds early childhood education in high regard. By virtue of being an educator herself and spending a good part of her time with kids Tema has seen how kids who enrolled years earlier than others managed to have a good grasp of items and comprehend them better. Early childhood education not only assists kids to develop mental but also prepares them for formal education psychologically. As a mother, running a place full of 60 kids every day is not much of a hustle like some may think but rather it comes naturally more so that she enjoys being with kids and making them happy.
Sibongile Mabona; Bunnies Academy
Mabona reveals that her love for children and anything good that concerns them has never been a secret, hence starting up a pre-school was a dream she had for a while. Mabona fended for herself to see her dream turn into a reality. After partnering with a long-time friend Mothusi Moeti in 2012 who had a piece of land in Block 9, her dream began taking shape. She got funding from the NDB and Bunnies Academy opened its doors to little ones in 2013. The mother of three girls states that dealing with kids, cute as it may seem is not ‘child’s play’ as it requires commitment, perseverance, hard work and patience.
That is why finding the right teachers was one of the challenges she faced. Luckily she managed to identify the best qualified with all the right attributes she wanted. She said there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the little ones who on their first day of school could barely talk finally graduating and full of so much excitement, confidence and a thirst to progress to the next level. Mabona’s respect and high regard for early childhood education and development is the main reason why she chose to open a preschool.
To her pre-primary education is the foundation of every child’s learning process and no one can ever go wrong by choosing it. Even more rewarding is getting referenced by parents of her former students and getting kudos from primary school teachers of her former students. She said parents should see enrolling their children in preschools as an investment into their future. Currently her preschool has an enrolment of about 130 students with 16 staff members. They also have a branch in Tlokweng and plan on opening another one in Francistown soon.