In the past month alone we’ve written about three key findings and potential influences on education in South Africa:
The finding is made worse when considering the level of poverty, as well as the unemployment rate in South Africa.
We also found that many parents weren’t sitting and reading with their children, with Stats SA revealing close to 50% of parents have actually never read a book with their child.
Parents blamed the “idiot box” and screen time for that, but the fact remains that we are discouraging a reading culture while evidently battling a reading crisis.
It makes no “educational sense” and learners who repeat between grade R to three “gain absolutely nothing” explained Angie Motshekga, in her basic education budget vote speech when proposing a no repeat policy.
But our stance, and that of the many parents, teachers and experts who responded to the proposal, is that getting the basics right and ensuring a strong foundation is crucial to learners succeeding when the going really gets tough from grade 4 on.
Again, how are we to ensure learners don’t repeat grade 4 – how are we to ensure they don’t repeat grade R to 3 – without a solid foundation?
On that note, and a fourth, additional point: Early childhood development teachers are not even formally recognised in South Africa.
Although the Department of Basic Education (DBE) developed the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) to guide early childhood development teachers, parents and caregivers, they haven’t gone as far as making this (early childhood development, specifically) formally part of the National Curriculum Statements (NCS).
While the DBE acknowledges that the first 1000 days of life, from pregnancy to age two, are very, very important in a child’s development, the NCS currently only covers Grades R to 12.
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) says the Department of Basic Education continues to delay the formalisation of Early Childhood Development, undermining the true value of ECD teachers.
“The wages of Grade R practitioners is a cause for concern when they are doing the most important work in the building of the nation,” explained SADTU in a recent press release.
“They are subjected to intolerable and abhorrent conditions at the workplace. They work without knowing whether they will receive a salary at the end of the month and without benefits such as UIF and pension.”
According to Western Cape Education Department spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond, at present, ECD teachers are employed by school governing bodies who are given a stipend. He also commented that the decision to formalise ECD practitioners must be made by the national Education Department.
Although Minister Motshekga addressed the issues during the election period, according to SADTU, “the Department has not moved an inch”.
We’ve emailed the Department of Education for comment and await their response.
What are your thoughts on the foundation phase? Should it be a more formal part of the SA curriculum?
Tell us and we may publish your comments.
Read more about the above proposed and potential influences on early education in SA here:
- Education in the foundation phase is crucial, but 63% of children do not attend preschool in SA
- The Department of Education’s proposed no repeat policy for grade R to 3 will do more harm than good to the state of education in SA
- 50% of children have never read a book with their parents – here's why we need to encourage reading early on