As parents and children prepare to start or return to school this week, Save the Children South Africa is calling for urgent intervention and investment in early childhood education.
“The need for quality foundation phase learning for all children, particularly vulnerable children living in remote and under-resourced communities is critical,” said Save the Children South Africa’s Education Lead, Logan Govender.
“Without a solid learning foundation, our children will not acquire the basic numeracy and literacy skills essential for progression to higher grades, and career success. As such, the first few years of a child’s life is crucial to their development and will determine the quality of their performance in formal school.
The 2014 ANA results are a sobering reminder of the early learning challenges we face: Mathematics Average % mark for Grade 4 was 37 and for First Additional Language 41. Research conducted at the University of Stellenbosch in 2016 made the following astounding finding: approximately 60% of South African children do not learn to read in any language (including their home languages) by the end of grade 4.
It is clear, therefore, that to improve our matric results and learner performance generally, we need to focus attention on early childhood care and development as well as foundation phase teacher training. Beyond these academic essentials, SCSA is pioneering positive parenting and positive discipline approaches to radically change attitudes and practices towards a more caring society. Teachers serve as role models to our children, and need all the support they can get to remain motivated and committed to the highest standards of their profession.
“For many children entering Grade 1 this year, it will be the first time they will see a pencil or book. Therefore, it is important that we equip foundation phase teachers with the necessary skills to disseminate the curriculum in a way that will help children adjust to classroom life and to set a solid learning foundation for them,” added Govender.
Save the Children South Africa is calling on Government and the private sector to invest in quality teacher training programmes, improving access to, and the quality of early childhood care and development centres, and to support child safety interventions in schools.
“Early investment will yield greater returns that will be beneficial to both the economy and society in general. The time to invest is now and we are looking for partners who will stand with us to champion early learning,” said Govender.
For more information or to set up an interview contact: Lois Moodley on 0724401519 or [email protected]
About: Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
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