EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (ECD)
*This project has been ear-marked for social franchise development
This project has been developed to assist caregivers in impoverished communities who are tasked with looking after preschool children while their parents are at work. Many of these caregivers have limited education and no access to formal training.
Education Africa’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Project, established in 2008, provides ongoing training and support to ECD practitioners and current or future potential caregivers with a view to ensuring children’s school readiness as they progress from preschool to primary school. More recently we have changed our focus from skills based training to a SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) NQF (National Qualification Framework) level 4 certified training programme. Our programme creates a solid foundation for lifelong learning and ultimate labour market success for pre-schoolers from impoverished areas, while at the same time providing under qualified caregivers with training and accreditation, directly impacting caregivers.
Our comprehensive training programme is cost-free for participants, a great benefit to ECD centres in disadvantaged areas that are already strained for resources. While many of the trainees entering this programme are already caregivers working in ECD centres, others are unemployed youths seeking a career opportunity. We are thrilled to be able to provide both with opportunities for growth. Our training curriculum consists of three core modules which include theoretical classroom workshops, practical implementation, onsite support and ongoing assessment. Additionally, we also offer a module in classroom resource making, turning scrap into much needed classroom resources that are taken for granted in most schools
Upon completion of the course, participants receive a South African Qualifications Authority’s (SAQA) NQF Level 4 accreditation in Early Childhood Education and Development. In addition to providing our graduates with a tangible result to follow the completion of their training, this distinction provides them the opportunity to increase their employment prospects and, at the same time, provide the field with well qualified practitioners. This also opens up the door to additional learning opportunities.
RATIONALE OF THE EDUCATION AFRICA ECD PROJECT
The first 1 000 days of a child’s life are critical for acquiring fundamental cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills. It is during these formative years that the most rapid development occurs. Motor and verbal skills, like an infant pulling herself to stand or a toddler learning to express his feelings with words, lay the foundation for sensory processing, coordination, alertness, critical problem solving, and more. Properly developing and acquiring these skills prepares children in the short-term for the start of primary school and, most importantly, in the long-term for the lifelong learning and success which will impact the rest of their lives.
When researching the current state of South Africa’s ECD centres in disadvantaged areas, we were struck with the following startling discoveries:
- Infants’ gross and fine motor skills are not properly encouraged, augmenting learning disadvantages as children grow.
- Educational tools and resources among many ECD centres are severely limited.
- Caregivers have not been trained in how to use what resources are available to them for maximum educational benefit.
Furthermore, a troublesome combination of undertrained caregivers and limited resources leaves the majority of South Africa’s ECD centres to become a place for infants and young children to spend their days, rather than an opportunity for promoting age-appropriate exploration and development. Consequently, the majority of six-year-old children who graduate from ECD centres to primary school are grievously underprepared and not school ready — already behind at the starting line of their lives and then, entering a school system that is already overburdened and challenged by poorly trained teachers, and under- resourced schools.
Amazingly, 75% of ECD caregivers in South Africa have never received any kind of training. Simply filling this gap, providing current and future potential caregivers basic training in early cognitive and physical development, creates an opportunity to halt this cycle and give disadvantaged South African children the opportunity they need to begin life on the right foot.
Without meaningful and urgent intervention to arrest this crisis, an entire generation of children will continue to commence life at a terrible disadvantage. This lack of educational investment often locks young children into a cycle of poverty and, in extreme cases, makes them vulnerable to lifelong, irreversible cognitive impairment, leading to yet another lost generation that the country and the continent can ill afford.
EDUCATION AFRICA ECD TRAIN THE TRAINER PROGRAMME: LEARNING OBJECTIVES & CORE MODULES
Our ECD training programme focuses on the following learning objectives for current and potential future caregivers:
- Early Childhood Development Principles and how to apply them
- Understanding developmental standards of children up to six-years-old, including:
- Motor skills
- Speech and language development
- Pre-reading and maths skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Cognitive stimulation and perceptual skills
- School and classroom management
- Curriculum planning
- Making own resources
- School readiness
- Health and safety including first aid
- Supporting children and adults living with HIV/AIDS
- Pre-school registration requirements
- Basic business concepts and training for financial sustainability
Each of our three core modules, in addition to our programme fundamentals and electives, fulfils these learning objectives by targeting the following themes:
Core Module 1
- Facilitate the holistic development of infants, toddlers and young children
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the development of infants, toddlers and young children
Core Module 2
- Prepare resources and set up the environment to support the development of infants, toddlers and young children
- Prepare early childhood development programmes with support
- Design activities to support the development of infants, toddlers and young children
Core Module 3
- Observe and report on child development
- Provide care for infants, toddlers and young children
- Work with families and communities to support early childhood development
- How to support children and adults living with HIV/AIDS
- How to manage an ECD Centre
- How to conduct a structured meeting
- Caring for children with special needs
- Sesotho (primary language of the Basotho people of South Africa)
- Mathematical literacy
Upcycled Educational Materials Workshop
This workshop is an additional elective module which covers recycling waste materials into educational toys and resources. Creatively recycling waste materials provides a unique solution to the limited or often non-existent supply of educational toys and resources available to most disadvantaged ECD centres (Please refer to Annexure A).
PROJECT GOALS & OUTCOMES
Education Africa’s aim is to expand our team of qualified ECD trainers and thus increase the number of SAQA Level 4 qualified ECD Practitioners.
Education Africa is uniquely positioned to provide this programme as our organisation has been offering ECD skills training for over a decade. We have worked unremittingly to foster meaningful partnerships with community organisations like the Boys and Girls Club and the Department of Social Development, whereby we utilise their facilities for training purposes, thereby keeping our costs of delivery down. We are also in the process finalising an agreement with another organisation to use their facilities for our training.
Our pilot accredited SAQA NQF level 4 ECD programme has enabled 17 caregivers in some of Soweto’s most impoverished areas to become nationally certified ECD practitioners. We are extremely proud to offer eager caregivers and unemployed youths the unique opportunity of national accreditation. This accreditation, combined with our skilled team of experienced ECD trainers, makes Education Africa the best organisation to scale our ECD Train the Trainer programme and contribute to solving the urgent need for structured ECD learning in our country.
FEEDBACK FROM PARTICIPATING CAREGIVERS, WHO ARE NOW QUALIFIED LEVEL 4 ECD PRACTITIONERS
We are different people to when we started with this course. Tessa taught us to have a vision and remain focused regardless of obstacles we come across so that we can succeed. She says achievers are not afraid of challenges rather they relish in them and use them profitably. We are now going to brighten up the corner of our communities because of Education Africa. Enkosi. Lindiwe
The course is very holistic and goes beyond the classroom to benefit so many other aspects of our lives. I now understand the different development stages of kids, and I value the importance of age-appropriate training in the classroom. Molly