Students Sustainably Work on Better Childcare for Special Needs Children in South Africa, Thanks to Aim for Die Sterreweg

aim for die sterreweg artevelde university college

On Thursday 31 January, Artevelde University College Ghent will hand out certificates to fifteen students, as a reward for their hard work in the excellence track 'Aim for Die Sterreweg'. Every year, this unique project offers a different team of students the opportunity to improve childcare for special needs children in South Africa. 'Aim for Die Sterreweg' is a three-year collaboration, funded by VLIR-UOS, between Artevelde University College Ghent, the South African Stellenbosch University, and 'Die Sterreweg', a day-care centre for children with disabilities in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

The South African day-care centre Die Sterreweg wishes to expand its activities and, in three years' time, wants to become an example in childcare for special needs children. This involves many aspects, including professionalised childcare as well as a sophisticated business plan and a well-thought-out volunteer policy. In order to realise these ambitions, Die Sterreweg wishes to appeal to its external partners, and Artevelde University College Ghent in particular. For several years now, the university college has been sending interns to Die Sterreweg and saw an opportunity to cooperate with its South African partners in an even more sustainable manner.

Furthermore, 'Aim for Die Sterreweg' is the first interdisciplinary excellence programme of Artevelde University College Ghent. Rector Tomas Legrand: "We want to offer ambitious students the opportunity to excel and to participate in study tracks in addition to their regular degree programme. In 'Aim for Die Sterreweg', students from various programmes work together; they contribute according to their own expertise and learn from each other. The project is a connection between innovative education and our internationalisation policy."

A total of 45 students participate in the project, which consists of three phases. The first team concluded the first year (2018) with an extensive situation analysis of Die Sterreweg and the environment. Based on this, the team developed a strategic action plan, describing a number of goals that Die Sterreweg must achieve in order to become a best practice. The 2019 team—which is currently being selected—will have the opportunity to take the first steps for this action plan and organise projects. In 2020, the emphasis will be on evaluation and adjustments.

Marjan Meganck is one of the founders of day-care centre Die Sterreweg and one of the permanent coaches in 'Aim for Die Sterreweg': "This project already has a major impact on Die Sterreweg. When we arrived here in Plettenberg Bay with the students in September, we would never have dared to hope that their activities would set so much in motion. 'Aim for Die Sterreweg' has become essential for the future of the day-care centre. It is fantastic to work with such committed and talented young people."