“A good education is the foundation for a better future.”

Ensuring that we shift ECD from daycare facilities to teaching and learning environments is one way we have changed the system and continue to build a foundation for a better future for young children. By introducing ICT interventions, we are strengthening that foundation because children will now have the same opportunity to learn as their peers in developed countries.




The Unlimited Child

Simthembile Sibhayi, 30, is the programme manager at The Unlimited Child, where he oversees 3 830 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres that accommodate over a million children nationally and in Zimbabwe and Lesotho. “I research and develop innovative means of assisting practitioners and children to advance in their ability to use technological tools in the daily teaching and learning process,” he says. His passion for education management and community development is evident through his work in rural and peri-urban communities with low-income households where he managed the implementation of sustainable educational programmes in ECD centres. Simthembile is dedicated to ensuring the centres are not only conducive learning environments but also viable micro-enterprises in communities. He recently facilitated the implementation of an information and communication technology intervention for ECD centres in informal mining communities in Limpopo, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. It saw the distribution of 350 tablets and the training of 668 people on the use of technology for teaching and learning. He believes every child should have equal access to advanced means of learning at an early age if they are to be competitive in the schooling system. He holds a master’s in community development from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is enrolling for a PhD in education. “What drives me to excel is seeing under five-year-old children that come from rural and peri-urban communities receiving quality early childhood education that will help them to be competent in their latter years of schooling. Education is the most important resource we can offer children who will lead this country in future,” Simthembile says.

  • Bachelor of Social Science in Environmental Management
  • BSocSc(Honours) in Community & Development Studies
  • Masters in Community Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal

  • I won an EThekwini Mayoral Award in 2015 for community development projects.
  • I was awarded an Enactus Service Leadership Award.
  • I am a former WEF Global Shaper who participated in the 2017 WEF for Africa.

As a child, I remember being raised by a single parent who always affirmed me as someone who will one day make a difference in our community and this country. She constantly emphasised the importance of education and that is why community development and education are pivotal in my life’s legacy project. This developed a strong sense of self-belief in me and led me to pursue initiatives that serve to help develop the lives of South African people.

I would encourage my younger self to continue on the path of selflessly seeking to help other people by standing at the forefront and taking initiative. I should ensure that the next generation receives from me what was invested in me.

I would like South Africa to prioritise the education of children at an early foundational level and see every ECD centre operating as a learning centre aligned with international learning standards. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s education legacy project is to increase the literacy rate of children, especially their ability to read for understanding. I want to see this legacy achieved in the next five years because literate future leaders will be developed from it.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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