Play, Learn, Win Early Childhood Development
Environmental Scan (Enviroscan)
Some links to National and International News Items Related to Early Childhood Development (ECD)
Arts and Academics: A Whole-Child Education
12 April 2022
A perspective from Romania. Subjects that fall within the creative arts (Art, Dance, Drama, and Music) are important elements of any school curriculum and any child’s development, yet these are all too often dismissed as less important than traditional core academic subjects. While worthy areas of study unto themselves, the creative arts also support progress in Maths, Science, and Language. Indeed, no curriculum is complete without these vital subjects.
The creative arts can help in the development of many skills and can expand students’ knowledge and skillsets. Students who study the arts better develop creative problem-solving skills and have more fully developed language and social skills. They are risk-takers and also demonstrate high levels of discipline, perseverance, and patience.
Further Reading: Romania Perspective
Early Childhood Care & Education Quality Assurance Systems in Africa
16 December 2021
This is a lengthy document that can be downloaded as a PDF. We only highlight some important aspects but the whole document is worth a read.
Limited systematic information is available on the status of ECCE (Early Childhood Care & Education) QASs (Quality Assurance Systems) in Africa. ECD Measure recently conducted a survey of ministries of education to understand and gather information on existing quality standards and the mechanisms for quality assurance in their respective countries.
Twenty-eight respondents from 14 countries completed the survey. The responding countries were Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Eswatini, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa, Togo, and Uganda. Respondents included assistant ministers, directors, and officers of ECCE divisions/departments in ministries, commissioners of basic education, heads of registration and teacher professionalization, inspectors, and teacher trainers.
A summary of the South Africa results reads as follows: “There are infrastructure and safety quality standards, as well as standards for practitioner qualifications. However, there are no quality standards that relate to quality instruction and expected learning outcomes yet.”
Common observations by stakeholders across ECCE QASs in Africa include:
- Investing in teachers is a top priority in nearly all countries, as they are the cornerstone for establishing quality ECCE.
- There is a need for better data systems, including regular data collection and the use of data for informed decision-making.
- A challenge to investing in QAS is limited resources within ECCE systems.
PLW Comment: The migration of ECE to the DBE should over the longer-term put a greater emphasis on proper QASs as it relates to early child care in South Africa. Implementing quality assurance in any setting implies that, as a basic, business processes should be in place coupled with proper job descriptions. Quality can only be assured if it’s measured against a certain standard which should be linked to business process outcomes.
Further Reading: ECD Quality Assurance Systems
UK’s OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) Chief Inspector’s Reflection Over the Last Two Years
08 March 2022
The speech held on 08 March dealt with a number of issues as they relate to especially ECD in the UK, a large number of which are also relevant to the South African scenario. We touch on the most salient points:
- Impact of COVID-19 on providers. To say that the last couple of years have been challenging is an understatement. Restrictions, furlough, funding, constant rule changes. And that’s before we even start to talk about staff well-being, staff retention and, most important of all, the impact on children themselves. None of us yet knows how much longer-term impact there may be.
- The education inspection framework (EIF). Throughout education – from early years all the way through to further education – we now emphasise the curriculum: what we want children and learners to know and be able to do at different stages in their life.
- The revised EYFS. The new EYFS specifically says: “When forming a judgement about whether an individual child is at the expected level of development, teachers should draw on their knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgement. Sources of written or photographic evidence are not required, and teachers are not required to record evidence.”
- Communication and language. Knowing and using more words brings confidence and assuredness. Children can communicate well, articulate what they’re thinking, get what they want. At the simplest level, it helps them to make friends and fit in socially. It’s good for their self-esteem and mental health.
- The role of play. There is a wide spectrum of play. Some is completely unguided, and some is more guided, to support particular learning. Children often can’t differentiate between what is play and what is learning – but they don’t have to; that is the job of the staff. To children, most of what they do in nursery is play. It is the adult’s task to identify what a child needs to learn and how to make sure they do learn it, either explicitly, such as teaching a child how to use a pair of scissors safely, or through play.
PLW Comment: The emphasis on having a curriculum even for ECD is becoming more obvious by the day and it’s worth noting the emphasis that a prestigious body like OFSTED places on this.
Further Reading: The OFSTED Perspective
COVID-19 Disruptions Hampered Development of Australian Children
15 April 2022
Data from the Australian Early Development Census shows the number of children in Australia who were developmentally “on track” across five key areas in 2021 had decreased from 2018.
The census assesses whether children are developmentally on track, at-risk, or vulnerable in physical health and wellbeing, social competence, language and cognitive skills, emotional maturity and communication skills and general knowledge.
Further Reading: COVID-19 Disruptions
New Research Underscores the Centrality of Play in Early Childhood Development
A new study in Bangladesh reveals that play-based learning in early childhood ensures that, when starting formal schooling, all children are developmentally equipped to benefit from primary education.
The study’s results also demonstrate the importance of playful parenting in the holistic integration of play in early childhood. Play-based learning can engage parents in the educational process and builds relationships between the caregivers, the Play Lab facilitators – known as Play Leaders – and the children to achieve these results by extending learning beyond the classroom.
Play Labs are safe spaces where children can engage in playful learning activities, supported by a flexible play-based curriculum – one that is culturally relevant and contextualized to suit local settings, fosters a sense of belonging, and promotes children’s cognitive, language, physical, and social-emotional development. Play Leaders guide children’s learning and are selected from the local communities. They receive foundational training, monthly refresher training and on-the-spot mentoring in the Play Labs.
PLW Comment: We had previously commented on the Play Lab project in Africa. See the article for also more comments on the results achieved over here.
Further Reading: Play Labs
The Importance of a Father’s Nurture and Care
Parents are children’s first and most important teachers. Fathers in particular, have a special role to play in children’s development and wellbeing. A new systematic review of research focused on father- child play and its potential impact on young children’s (age 0-3) development found that fathers’ play, which most frequently focuses on physical play, such as rough and tumble, with their young children can positively contribute to children’s social, emotional and cognitive outcomes.
Yet, fathers can do more than rough and tumble play. Fathers can positively impact their children’s and their own positive well-being even through simple things, which in many cultures are not the role of fathers, such as combing hair or cooking and bathing.
Further Reading: Father’s Role
Liquid SA Visits ECD Centres to Monitor Nutrition Programme
14 April 2022
A delegation from Liquid Intelligent Technologies, together with their partner, Wellspring NPO, visited two ECD centres outside Mthatha, on April 7, to monitor the nutrition programme roll-out that is currently benefiting 54 ECD centres.
Liquid SA has invested in this programme to ensure that learners across 54 crèches in Mthatha have daily access to the nutritional supplement bars and porridge. These bars help stimulate their young minds and provide much-needed nourishment. This in turn helps influence the development of their brain. No child can learn on an empty stomach, and the proper nutritional intake is vital for their development.
Parents at both visited ECD centres have given glowing reviews of the nutritional programme, saying it had developed their children both physically and mentally.
Further Reading: Eastern Cape Nutrition Programme
We Have to be Creative and Harness Ideas of Hope to Reduce Inequality
13 April 2022
In the second Inclusive Society Institute report on inequality in South Africa the authors were able to identify levers of change and opportunity and recommend ideas in which wellbeing inequality can be tackled in a more comprehensive way.
As a key conversion factor that influences whether people can move out of poverty, improving access to quality education should be a key policy priority. Models that demonstrate improvements in ECD education access and quality include features of innovative funding structures, smaller class sizes, and standardised assessment tools. Low investment in the basic education space is a threat to South Africa’s aim to achieve equality and needs to be revisited, with a particular focus on high-impact investments.
Education policies should be quality-focused, placing emphasis on shifts in outcomes as opposed to inputs only.
PLW Comment: See also the earlier article on QASs in Africa. It is clear that there is a greater move towards being able to quality assure ECD learnings. In SA the move of ECD to DBE is likely to accelerate this. Best for ECD centres to be proactive and get their quality systems in place.
Further Reading: ECD As A Lever To Remove Inequality
Appeal for ECD Information to Ensure Uninterrupted Financing
14 April 2022
On 1 April 2022, the responsibility of ECD was transferred from the provincial Department of Social Development to the WCED (Western Cape Education Department) – as has been the case throughout the country.
The WCED is now responsible for supporting, subsidising, and regulating the programmes according to the specifications in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of the Children’s Act. The WCED therefore requested the following information from 819 ECD institutions:
- A new bank entity form – completed and signed by the person who has authority to do so.
- A bank confirmation letter from the banking institution.
Unfortunately, the documentation for 104 ECD centres remains outstanding, despite ongoing calls for them to submit the paperwork. The unfortunate consequence is that without the required documentation, WCED is unable to make payment to them.
Further Reading: ECD Centre Information Needed
Please note that these Enviroscans are exactly that – a short scan of the latest ECD developments. No attempt is made at interpretation and the reader should click on the relevant link provided at the end of every article summary to access the full article
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Cakata, L. 14 April 2022. Liquid SA visits ECD centres to monitor nutrition programme. https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/local/mthathaexpress/liquid-sa-visits-ecd-centres-to-monitor-nutrition-programme-20220412
CDC. 28 April 2020. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/gsRi9cWCIB0
ECD Measure Team. 16 December 2021. Early Childhood Care & Education Quality Assurance Systems in Africa. https://www.ecdmeasure.org/resource/early-childhood-care-education-quality-assurance-systems-in-africa/
Fletcher, E. 10 June 10 2019. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/YfNWGrQI3a4
Lego Foundation. n.d. New Research Underscores the Centrality of Play in Early Childhood Development. https://ecdan.org/new-research-underscores-the-centrality-of-play-in-early-childhood-development/
Precel, N. 15 April 2022. COVID-19 disruptions hampered development of Australian children. https://www.smh.com.au/education/covid-19-disruptions-hampered-development-of-australian-children-20220414-p5adi1.html
Romaniainsider. 12 April 2022. Arts and Academics: A Whole-Child Education. https://www.romania-insider.com/p-arts-and-academics-whole-child-education
Spielman, A. 08 March 2022. Nursery World Business Summit 2022. https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amanda-spielman-at-the-nursery-world-business-summit-2022
Smith, A. et al. 13 April 2022. We have to be creative and harness ideas of hope to reduce inequality in South Africa. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-04-13-we-have-to-be-creative-and-harness-ideas-of-hope-to-reduce-inequality-in-south-africa/
Shah, S. n.d. The Importance of a Father’s Nurture and Care. https://ecdan.org/the-importance-of-a-fathers-nurture-and-care/
Spiske, M. 19 January 2017. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/OO89_95aUC0
Spiske, M. 08 July 8 2018. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/oTXmObuu3K0
Western Cape Government. 14 April 2022. Appeal for ECD information to ensure uninterrupted financing. https://www.westerncape.gov.za/news/appeal-ecd-information-ensure-uninterrupted-financing