Success in life begins early

2017-11-08 06:00

Quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a critical determinant of the future success of children.

This is according to Sonja Giese, executive director of Innovation Edge (IE), a body seeking solutions for early childhood care and education challenges in under-resourced communities.

Giese states in a press release that almost one million of the poorest children from the ages of three to five in South Africa still have no access to early learning programmes. The finding is despite government setting an ambitious target of achieving universal and equitable ECD by 2030.

“For those that are enrolled, the quality of the programme is often poor. The foundations for language development, literacy, numeracy, social skills and even higher cognitive functions are all embedded within the brain in the first six years of life,” says Giese.

“Enabling positive brain development at the beginning of a child’s life produces better health, education and social outcomes for that child.”

Giese says that data collec-ted last year on more than 1 300 Gr. R learners showed that the performance of the poorest children tends to be lowest – in all areas of deve-lopment. These children start school at a disadvantage and the gap between them and their better-off peers widens over time. It is clear that providing universal access to high-quality preschool services will help ensure a fair start for all children.

“The prevailing culture undervalues ECD services, as well as the practitioners who deliver these programmes,” says Giese.

She says one barrier to ECD as a career has been the traditional training methods, which call for many hours of instructor-led teaching.

To make the training more accessible, IE has set up the ECD Heroes Challenge to highlight early childhood education as a desirable profession and to celebrate the work of exceptional practitioners who put extra effort into their professional development.

Through the challenge, IE runs an eight-week challenge for ECD practitioners to elevate and celebrate the significant role of these practitioners in society.


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