Critical process of preparing children to learn
IN AN attempt to improve children’s readiness for Grade R, a parliamentary panel has recommended the government adopt community crèches and implement standardised cognitive development programmes.
The panel’s report to the portfolio committee on basic education advised that financial support and appropriate training for Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners be provided.
Its aim was to assess key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change in the country’s education system.
Statistics South Africa had revealed that by the age of 5, almost 90% of a child’s brain would be developed.
However, in recent years it was found that the majority of 5-year-olds were not ready for Grade R and could not cope in school.
Molly Govender, who opened a daycare centre in Reservoir Hills this year, after working with children for 13 years, said investing in a child’s foundational years was critical.
“The first five years are crucial to the development of social skills, personality, cognitive thinking, decision-making, ability to concentrate and behaviour.”
Sarah Bi-Amod, the owner of Friendly Bee’s Academy, a community crèche in Shallcross, welcomed the recommendation.
She said the academy accommodated children from ages 1 to 6 and had qualified workers that followed a detailed programme to ensure the pupils received individual attention.
“We start with breakfast followed by a morning discussion. We then commence our first lesson, which involves the development of motor skills such as working with play dough and building blocks.”
Snack time follows before a worksheet activity on life skills.
She said it was vital the children are able to count, paste, colour and identify shapes before entering Grade R.
“Children at this age grasp the most knowledge, so it is important to teach them as much as possible, even a new language is possible.”
The director of ECD at the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Marie-Louise Samuels, said they were looking at assisting the 1 500 registered and unregistered ECD centres to ready children for Grade R.
“ECD is an inter-departmental function, and the DBE is presently trying to strengthen collaboration between departments. We will consolidate moderation in order to be more efficient.”
Samuels said the department would assist with curriculum and practitioner training. “The DBE is responsible for curriculum and training, and the framework is available in all languages and Braille. The department trained practitioners and has online training that has been very successful. In a single year, they have reached 42 000 of these practitioners.”
She said the DBE was preparing an assessment in Grade 1 to ascertain the impact of the ECD services.
They were attempting to bring alignment between the ECD centres and the schools, but that it was not compulsory.
Labby Ramrathan, a professor at UKZN’s School of Education, described the move as noble but said the initiative did not look at the country’s diversity.
“It works well for urban communities but what about the outer-lying, rural communities where cost is a glaring factor? Community crèches are often used as daycares and the cost is minimal. When you introduce sophisticated systems to crèches, the costs will escalate, causing their businesses to collapse.”
Ramrathan said there was already a curriculum in place for children aged up to 5 years that he helped put together.
He said it was available online and assisted teachers with implementing cognitive development.
Ramrathan added that when a child reached Grade R, he/she should be able to speak in full sentences, recognise figures and objects, listen to reading texts and make sense of it.
Motor skills should also be formed, he said.
Ramrathan advised ECD teachers to be forward thinkers and to always be on top of development.
“You cannot expect the government to take the responsibility for everything. Take the initiative and try and do things on your own.”
The Department of Social Development had not commented at the time of publication. we have had 30 attacks, some occurring on a daily basis.”
He said they wanted government officials to visit communities to address their concerns. Mpogeng hoped the culprits would be identified and prosecuted.
“We have no-go zones in certain areas because it is too dangerous and because of this, people are being deprived of health care. Here we want the government to provide us with security, so we can help these people in need.”
But the Department of Health has condemned the union, saying carrying guns will not solve the problem.
The KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, condemned the attacks while visiting a paramedic who was stabbed.
Dhlomo said it was worrying that a health worker in full uniform on duty was attacked by thugs.
“This is part of a social ill. These people who attacked him must have been under the influence of something.”
Dhlomo added that if the paramedics are armed, there must be some sort of training for these medical professionals.
Raveen Naidoo, the national director of emergency medical services and disaster management at the Health Department, said they have taken steps to address the attacks on emergency personnel.
The director of Gun Free South Africa, Adele Kirsten, said carrying guns could be to the detriment of paramedics.
“We know that arming people increases the potential for violence. (A gun) is a good offensive weapon, which is why you would arm your police force or military, but it’s not a good defensive weapon, so all the evidence shows that you increase your risk of being injured or dying.”
National police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said it was up to employers to decide whether paramedics should be allowed to carry firearms for protection.
LEFT: Paramedic Kim Maharaj, of Accimed Response, attends to a patient.
Jurani Lutchman and Parvathi Gangapersoon believe the government is failing them.