ECD training invaluable

2018-10-17 06:05
At the graduation ceremony on 5 October in Kathu are from the left, front: Shireen Cloete, Seganeleng Mere, Lerato Malgas, Monnique Roos and Patricia Boesak; middle: Rachel Basson, Christina Pienaar, Martha Bartlett (MEC for Education), Sylvia Lucas (premier of the Northern Cape), Ursula Pretorius and Sophie Pitso; back: Constance Olyn, Judy Louw, Conrihetta Riekert, Chrisna van der Westhuizen and Hilda Gaseranolwe.Photo: Supplied

At the graduation ceremony on 5 October in Kathu are from the left, front: Shireen Cloete, Seganeleng Mere, Lerato Malgas, Monnique Roos and Patricia Boesak; middle: Rachel Basson, Christina Pienaar, Martha Bartlett (MEC for Education), Sylvia Lucas (premier of the Northern Cape), Ursula Pretorius and Sophie Pitso; back: Constance Olyn, Judy Louw, Conrihetta Riekert, Chrisna van der Westhuizen and Hilda Gaseranolwe.Photo: Supplied

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The importance of Early Childhood Development (ECD), and the role it plays in breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality, is undeniable.

It is proven to be the key driver in impacting a country’s future economic growth and improvement for the citizens.

This is according to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa.

He made these statements in his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, and mentioned that education should start in early childhood.

Recognising the significance of properly qualified and competent practitioners to teach young children, Renewable Energy Investments South Africa (Reisa) launched its flagship ECD programme in 2016.

The graduates of this programme were honoured at a ceremony at the Gamagara Hall in Kathu on 5 October.

Local stakeholders and partners, practitioners and the premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas, attended the event.

Congratulating the team at the ceremony, Veronique Isaacs, regional community operations manager for Reisa, said: “We are extremely proud of these 57 practitioners who have invested so much of their time and effort over the last 18 months. Their commitment to this programme is applauded.”

The graduates achieved a 100% pass rate.

According to Isaacs, a recent study by Reisa highlighted the impact on the quality of teaching and learning at the 12 ECD centres in 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 covered over the last 18 months.

“The study has shown a steady increase in learners meeting their expected educational and cognitive levels, as expected at their age group, growing exponentially since 2016hey now demonstrate an 85% achievement,” said Isaacs.

Ten Level 5 practitioners are now qualified, making them eligible to apply for vacant departmental posts for Gr. R teachers.

The completion of these two qualifications allow for the professionalisation of the ECD sector and creates a career path for practitioners.

Boipelo Majeng, a graduate ECD practitioner of the Mpelega ECD Centre, can already see the benefits of her training. She is now working towards a diploma in ECD.

“Before enrolling for the Level 4 training, I worked as an aftercare assistant. The training has taught me the importance of preparation and how a well-drafted daily programme can boost a child’s development and education.

“I have also acquired the skill to develop learning resources from recyclable material. I can now develop any resource I need for a lesson or activity,” she said.

In October last year, an assessment of this programme showed that 100% of practitioners reported an increase in their confidence levels – both in teaching the children and communicating with parents.

They also reported a greater understanding of how to manage children in and outside the classroom.

Altogether 71% of principals said they observe an improvement in the functional and technical capability and capacity of practitioners.

“I have seen a huge improvement in Majeng, and am very proud of her progress,” said Sherley Kailane, senior practitioner of the Mpelega ECD Centre.

“It will be great if she and her class could be given an opportunity to complete the N5 level.”

) The NQF is a set of principles and guidelines by which the 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.

) The NQF Level 4 is the minimum qualification required to teach children aged five and younger. The Department 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 Gr. 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 is only a 50% chance of him attending an education programme.

) Universal access to schooling in South Africa only starts in Gr. 1. This means a child from a poor family will enter at a disadvantage.

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