ECD takes centre stage of dept priorities


Kimberley - Following the high growing number of Grade R learners, the Northern Cape department of education is prioritising Early Childhood Development.  In the current financial year, the programme has been allocated a total of R 89, 8 million, which is an improvement compared to the R76, 7 million in 2012/13 financial year. Funding will increase to an estimated R122m by 2017/18 financial year as the number of Grade R learners is also anticipated to increase.

This current academic year the department has recorded a total of 18 627 Grade R learners in public ordinary schools, the number of learners has improved with 571 learners compared to the 2014 academic year.  When tabling her budget speech, the late MEC for education Grizelda Cjiekella-Lecholo said delays of taking children to early learning can have costly consequences at a later stage.

“Delays in cognitive and overall development before schooling can often have long lasting and costly consequences for children, families and society. The most effective and cost-efficient time to intervene is before birth and the early years of life. Investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) should be a key priority”, MEC said.

The foundation phase programme has contributed positively to the learner outcomes particularly in the lower grades; this has also been achievable through the assistance of qualified and competent Grade R teachers in the province. In an effort to attain improved results in the foundation phase, the department in partnership with the North West University have registered 130 Grade R practitioners and 50 Pre Grade R Practitioners within Community Centres to further their studies towards the Diploma in Grade R teaching.

The department has entered into a partnership with the department of Social Development to register a database of ECD practitioners which indicates their current qualifications. This will inform on-going professional development programmes which will be pursued so as to ensure that learners are appropriately stimulated for further learning.

As part of creating a conducive environment for learning and teaching, the department will be constructing a total of 26 double Grade R classrooms in the current financial year.  These classrooms are modified to suite a Grade R learner and also assist the teacher to initiate appropriate grade R learning experience.