Early childhood care and education policy intentions and the realities in rural areas
Keywords:Early Childhood Care and Education, early childhood policies, infrastructure, registration
Early Childhood Development (ECD) policies are primary determinants in the provision of quality early childhood development outcomes. Healthy and safe environments play a critical role in enhancing children’s care and development. This is even more critical for children living in marginalised communities to develop foundational knowledge and thrive beyond their primary years. However, ECD practitioners in rural areas are faced with a severe lack of basic health facilities, care and learning resources. Regardless of this, education and care at these rural ECD centres are expected to continue. Young children are progressed from these inadequate ECD centres to formal schooling for enrolment in Grade R with limited foundational knowledge. The study intended to look into ECD policies and challenges faced by the under-resourced ECD centres whose mandate is to provide quality learning opportunities for young children. The research applied a qualitative approach within an interpretivist paradigm. Data were obtained through semi-structured interviews, writing field notes, observations and photographs. Three (3) education officials, two (2) ECD managers and four (4) practitioners were purposefully sampled. The study found that unregistered ECD centres in rural areas do not have the basic resources required to provide children with foundational knowledge. The findings recommend that ECD practitioners at these centres should be empowered and upskilled in the registration processes to access quality programmes, infrastructure, water and sanitation facilities. This will ensure that young children are provided with a safe and secure learning environment to enhance development opportunities.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Tuelo Nelly Matjokana
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