The Benefits of Early Education

We believe that early education has a positive effect and far-reaching benefits. Effective early education programs improve the learning and development of all children. Studies in Europe and the US have confirmed long-term benefits of pre-school education include increased high school pass rates.

Raising and educating a child is rewarding when you get that hug. Inspirational when you see them succeed, fun, and can be hard work. Almost all of this work happens at home, as we the parents are our children’s first and most important teachers. In this age of information and with some high standard early education establishment available to parents. Research as well as experience continue to show that a great deal of this work actually happens in a classroom.

According to studies done by the Department of Education more than 41% of Grade 3 pupils in the Western Cape cannot read, write or count at the appropriate level for their age. Literacy, numeracy and life skills education in South Africa faces a multitude of challenges. Large classes, language of instruction, poorly trained teachers, lack of parent-child interaction and shortages of resources and personnel are very real problems.

To benefit from Early Education more effective and appropriate methodologies for teaching literacy, numeracy and life skills are required.

There is a critical need for an innovative approach to address the challenges of pre-primary and primary school education in South Africa.

Early Education

The Government of the Republic of South Africa prioritised early childhood development (ECD) since 1994. ECD has been recognised as one of the most powerful tools for breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty in South Africa. Overwhelming scientific evidence confirms, therefore, the tremendous importance of the early years for human development. Thus the need for investing resources to support as well as promote optimal child development from conception. Lack of opportunities and interventions, or poor quality interventions, during early childhood, can significantly disadvantage young children and diminish their potential for success.

ECD Facts in South Africa

There are 8, 207, 723 million children from birth to 6 years old according to 2014 Mid Year Population estimates

The largest number is in Kwa-Zulu Natal (23%), Gauteng (20%) and lowest in Northern Cape (2%) and Free State (5%)

Whilst poverty levels have fallen by 15% since 2004 using the lower bound poverty level of R604.00 per person per month, about 58% of children are deemed poor.

The burden of poverty is distributed unequally across provinces; the majority of poor children are black, living predominantly in rural provinces. These provinces are; Limpopo (76%), Eastern Cape (75%) and Kwa-Zulu Natal (67%).

Service provision is poor and affected by a combination of factors; i.e. legislation that is not harmonised, insufficient funding, poor governance, including institutional arrangements, leadership and coordination.

NDA Involvement in ECD

The National Development Agency (NDA), in support of the Department of Social Development (DSD) on provisioning of Early Childhood services, focuses on Early Childhood Development programmes that are not registered, those that are conditionally registered and are geographically far beyond reach. These are programmes situated in rural areas, informal settlements and farm areas where the levels of poverty are very high and parents have no means or access to structured ECD based programmes. The NDA undertakes the following interventions:

Capacity building of ECDs

Building institutional capacity of ECD centre management, particularly in the areas of governance, management, financial management, fundraising, human resource management, report-writing and how to register with the provincial Departments of Social Development. This assists centres to be able to comply with the norms and standards of the Department of Social Development.

ECD centre infrastructure upgrades to ensure quality early learning programmes that adhere to infrastructural norms and standards; where the environment is conducive for learning and is safe. The NDA supports minor and major infrastructure upgrades to ECD centres depending on the needs identified, following an ECD centre needs assessment. Proper ECD infrastructure enables ECD centres to meet the minimum registration requirements and thus be eligible for the per capita ECD subsidy which is available from the provincial Education and Social Development Departments.

ECD staff development so as to enable ECD centres to be run efficiently, sustainably and effectively in educating and caring for young children. ECD principals, supervisors, practitioners, cooks and governing body members are appropriately trained and skilled to benefit the centre’s programmes for young children.

National Development Agency

Education equipment provision (LTSM) the NDA believes that it is necessary that sufficient age appropriate, durable and safe education equipment be available for use by children. With the proper teacher guidance, the material can be used to stimulate children’s early learning with a focus on literacy, numeracy and life skills. The teachers are properly trained to be able to use the learning, teaching and support materials in stimulating children.

Non-centre based ECD. The use of NDA funded mobile ECD centres in remote areas has also proven to be a success. The reason is because they are able to reach a wider audience of children. NDA funded mobile ECD centres reach children in the comfort of their communities. The primary objective of the mobile ECD is to reach the poorest communities. This is where children, as well as parents, don’t have access to quality ECD programmes. The NDA supports all forms of Non-Centre Based ECD interventions.

Food and nutrition support. The NDA, in its engagement with ECD centres, promotes the concept of “One ECD centre, one food garden”. Food gardens enable provision of fresh vegetables to school feeding schemes; act a source of food supplies to community-based ECD facilities and home-based centres and rural communities. The NDA also provides skills development and training on the benefits of good nutrition.

The 21st Century Child

Our world has changed and research shows that children need more than the traditional 3 Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) to prepare for future 21st-century careers. Globalisation means that children need to prepare academically for an increasingly competitive global landscape and at the same time learn to collaborate with others from all over the world. Technology has changed our access to information and knowledge. Children now need the skills to be able to sort, analyse and understand vast amounts of data. A dynamic world economy requires creativity and innovation. So how do we prepare children for tomorrow’s knowledge-based, highly competitive, highly innovative careers in an increasingly complex and globalised world?

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