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The real value of well-trained and educated ECD teachers

According to a report called The Plight of the ECD Workforce, collated by various Early Childhood Development (ECD) organisations in April 2020, only 1-1.5 million learners (out of a population of over 5 million children between the age of 0-4) will be able to attend an Early Childhood Development centre in South Africa. This is due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown regulations that have forced ECD centres to either layoff staff or close completely. Rosemary Mokoena, teacher training and development manager of the Nokuphila Teacher Training Academy, emphasises the importance of having well-trained and certified ECD teachers.
Graduates of the Love Trust's Nokuphila Teacher Training Academy
Graduates of the Love Trust's Nokuphila Teacher Training Academy

Based on the findings from the 2018 General Household Survey, the learners who don’t attend ECD centres and stay at home with parents or guardians lacked the needed stimulation during this highly important development phase. Often because the parents or guardians didn’t read to them or draw with them. But is it simply enough for children to attend any pre-school establishment, such as day-care centres, crèches, playgroups and nursery schools where the minimum requirement for a pre-school teacher is an NQF Level 1 (grade 9)?

Well-educated teachers who hold a bachelor's degree (or higher) are more informed and better equipped to help children master the curriculum and develop them holistically as responsible citizens. The importance of having well-trained and certified teachers is also crucial at a pre-primary level as those learners feed into the foundational phase.

According to Mokoena, the difference between children who attended ECD centres with trained teachers versus untrained trained teachers or children who never attended pre-primary at all is self-evident. These children often have no or very little experience playing and working in teams (poor social skills) and the teachers in the foundation phase need to spend more time trying to get the children caught up on educational and social milestones that should have been reached before grade 1. Children who are placed in the care of trained ECD staff, according to Mokoena, have shown to have greater cognitive acuity, emotional development and interpersonal skills. This allows the learners to perform better in a formal educational environment and boosts their confidence.

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