Siyakhulisa :an empowerment driven journey towards quality early childhood development practices
Fourie, Jacoba Elizabeth
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Investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) is one of the most effective ways in which to decrease social disparities caused by adverse environments as such environments hamper the development of young children. This paper presents a descriptive study of an early childhood development intervention project, grounded in a community-based research approach that resulted in more conducive ECD teaching and learning environments in township ECD centres in the Gauteng Province (Vaal Triangle) of South Africa. During the implementation of the project, grade R (the year before formal schooling) ECD practitioners from townships in the Vaal Triangle of the Gauteng Province participated actively. The ECD practitioners and the researcher planned the intervention programme together. The components of the intervention programme were implemented as intended and what was delivered went according to the way it was planned. Data was gathered through administering open-ended questionnaires and conducting semi-structured, face-to-face interviews before- and after the intervention programme was implemented. The outcomes of this intervention varied. However, reflection from all the participants, including practitioners, lecturers and students indicates that this intervention has addressed the learning needs of Grade R ECD practitioners and resulted in a wide range of learning and development opportunities for children in townships in the Vaal Triangle. It became evident that ECD practitioners face a number of challenges in the implementation of the knowledge and skills that they gained during the intervention programme. Limitations in the management skills of managers (sometimes referred to as principals with no formal training) of the ECD centres, were identified as the most critical challenges. These limitations will be addressed in a next intervention project.