The importance of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the role that it plays in breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality, is undeniable. It is proven to be the key driver in impacting on a country’s future economic growth and improvement for the citizens. This is the opinion shared by President Ramaphosa, who addressed the issue during his Nation Address, stating that, education should start in early childhood.
Recognising this need and the significance of properly qualified and competent practitioners to teach young children, REISA launched its flagship ECD programme in 2016 and are now honouring these graduates at a ceremony attended by local stakeholders and partners, Practitioners and the Northern Cape Premier.
“We are extremely proud of these fifty-seven practitioners who have invested so much of their time and efforts over the last 18 months. Their commitment to this programme is applauded. With a pass rate of 100%, this is most certainly something worth celebrating,” said Veronique Isaacs, Regional Community Operations Manager for REISA.
Even more significantly, a recent study has highlighted the impact on improved quality of teaching and learning across the twelve ECD Centres within the Gamagara Municipality, which participated in the training programme. Both NQF Level 4 (Further Education and Training Certificate) and NQF Level 5 (Higher Education and Training Certificate in ECD) qualifications were embarked on over the last 18 months.
“The study has shown a steady increase in learners meeting educational and cognitive levels, as expected at their age group, growing exponentially since 2016, to now demonstrating an 85% achievement,” added Isaacs.
Ten level 5 practitioners are now qualified, making them eligible to apply for Department of Basic Education vacant Grade R posts. The gradual completion of these 2 qualifications allow for the professionalisation of the ECD sector and creates a career path for practitioners.
Boipelo Majeng, a graduate ECD Practitioner from Mpelega ECD Centre, is one of the many practitioners who has been able to see the benefits of her training and is now working towards a Diploma in ECD, “Before enrolling for the ECD N4 Training, I worked as an aftercare assistant. The training has taught me the importance of preparation and how a well drafted daily programme helps in boosting a child’s development and education. I have also learned an important skill – developing learning resources using recyclable material. I can now develop any resource that I need for a lesson or activity.”
An assessment of this programme in October 2017, showed that 100% of practitioners reported: an increase in their confidence levels in teaching the children and communicating with parents; a greater understanding of how to manage children in and outside of the classroom. 71% of Principals reported observing an improvement in the functional and technical capability and capacity of practitioners.
“I have seen a huge improvement in Boipelo and am very proud of her progress and it will also be great if Boipelo and her class could be given an opportunity to complete N5,” commented Sherley Kailane, ECD Senior Practitioner at Mpelega ECD Centre.
- NQF is the set of principles and guidelines by which records of learner achievement are registered to enable national recognition of acquired skills and knowledge, thereby ensuring an integrated system that encourages life-long learning.
- NQF Level 4: The minimum qualification required to teach children between the ages of 0 and 5. The Departments of Social Development and Basic Education recognises this as an entry-level qualification for those who want to enter the field of education, specifically within the sub-field of ECD. This qualification enables recipients to facilitate the all-round development of young children in a manner that is sensitive to culture and individual needs (including special needs).
- NQF Level 5: The Level 5 Higher Certificate in ECD is targeted at practitioners teaching Grade R learners. Once practitioners have completed this qualification, they are eligible to apply for Department of Basic Education vacant Grade R posts.
- According to the South African Early Childhood Review, if a four-year-old child is in one of the 20% of poorest households, there’s only a 50% chance of them attending some sort of education programme.
- Universal access to schooling in South Africa only starts in Grade 1 with free schooling. That means a child from a poor family would already be entering at a disadvantage
HOW OUR LEADERS SUPPORT ECD:
- In 1995, a year into his presidency, Nelson Mandela announced he would donate a third of his presidential salary to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa has followed suit, announcing in May that will would donate half his R3.6m annual salary to a fund that will be managed by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, directing the proceeds to worthy community-based projects, which has prioritised ECD.
- The REISA Early Childhood Development Flagship Project was designed to focus on strengthening and capacitating all ECD centres in the 5 beneficiary towns within the Gamagara Municipality, so that these centres are in a position to provide quality childcare and education for children from age 0 to 6.