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The Naked Difference: Cotlands is a cause dedicated to enriching a child’s future with play-based education


A child’s first experiences deeply impact the rest of their life. Cotlands has several programmes to enhance the social-emotional development of children in underprivileged communities.

In the first few years of a child’s life, “more than one million neural connections are formed each second – a pace never repeated again.” The first learnings and bonds a child experiences will deeply affect their future development, health, and behaviour.

Cotlands is an organisation that’s one of the biggest contributors to play-based education and Early Childhood Development (ECD) in South Africa. There are currently over one million children aged three to five in South Africa who don’t have access to a form of an early learning programme. The 85-year-old organisation’s vision is to see children thrive in these first five years by creating more access to play-based early learning opportunities in poorer communities. Cotlands has a number of scalable and cost-effective programmes targeted at newborns up to five-year-old kids.

The programmes are designed to enhance children’s social-emotional development, as well as their cognitive skills like creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. The goal is to ensure that children have the required skills to excel when entering formal schooling and to develop holistically as they grow into adulthood.

Cotlands programmes

Early Learning Playgroups

Each four-hour play session is structured around a routine, creating learning and play opportunities that develop children’s language, mathematical, problem-solving, gross motor, fine motor, as well as social and emotional skills. Cotlands uses a well-established "play-based" teaching style that is age-appropriate, encourages exploration, fosters curiosity, and provides the opportunity to make choices. Breakfast and lunch or snacks are provided to all children attending the early learning playgroups.

Toy Libraries

To increase access to quality early childhood learning, Cotlands toy librarians train practitioners working at existing ECD centres in underprivileged communities. The toy libraries provide theme kits, which consist of books, toys, games, and other educational resources. This high-impact, cost-effective non-centre-based programme also provides educational toys and training to children, their families, early learning facilitators, home visitors, community workers, and other organisations providing services to children.

Cotlands also provides monthly parenting programmes to inform, support, and encourage positive parenting skills, as well as workshops to parents enabling them to conduct play-based learning and best practice principles back at home.

CotlandsIgnite™ – an e-learning training platform

South Africa has a massive skills shortage of qualified ECD practitioners. To address the skilled workforce shortage, Cotlands has designed an online training platform called CotlandsIGNITE™. Cotlands is an accredited training provider that can offer the “Occupational Certificate Early Childhood Level 4” and “New Venture Creation Toy Library Skills” qualifications through sponsorships. Through this platform, they aim to strengthen the skills in the sector and improve the quality of South Africa’s ECD workforce.

“Through online learning, we hope to reach practitioners all across the country so that we increase and improve access to quality early learning services for marginalised children nationally.” – Dr Monica Stach, Cotlands CEO

How to get involved:

You can make a once-off donation or you can choose to donate on a monthly basis. They also have a couple of other ways you can get involved:

  • Food parcel donation: Sponsor a food parcel for a child and help Cotlands feed those in need.
  • Donate time or goods: Cotlands is always looking for individuals who are willing to donate their time, goods (especially goods off their wish list) and/or services.
  • Donate your birthday: You can either donate on behalf of someone else or dedicate your own birthday to raising money for Cotlands. Share the link with your friends and family on your birthday and ask them to donate as a gift to you!

What is the Naked Difference and how does it make Naked different from other insurers?

When you see or hear “Naked Difference”, Corporate Social Investment might be what comes to mind. But it shouldn’t. The Naked Difference isn’t the icing on the cake as far as social impact goes. The way we’ve built Naked means that causes benefit directly from the way we do business. We’re on a path to do good in an otherwise grudge-purchase industry.

We take a flat fee upfront to cover running costs and profit. The rest of the money goes towards claims, with leftover premiums at the end of the year paid to causes that our clients choose. This is different from other insurers, who take the leftover money as profit: we’ve removed the conflict of interest completely. This is the Naked Difference and it changes everything about insurance.

We’re really passionate about telling people about the Naked Difference and who it supports, so we’re featuring our causes to share what they do within South African communities.


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