Universalise access to Grade R
Grade R is a critical preparatory period for a child’s time in school. The Department of Education is continuously raising awareness around early stimulation and learning. This is supported by the supply of educational toys to primary schools with grade R classes and establishment and/or renovation of hostels that accommodate learners from farm schools. In partnership with the Flemish government, training manuals were developed on the curriculum of pre-grade R to improve the quality of pre-grade R programmes.
- At the end of 2011, the following factors indicated the progress of the Department with regard to Early Childhood Development;
- The number of learners who have received formal Grade R education increased from 29095 (out of a total number of 64 523 Grade 1 learners) in 2010 to 36997 (out of a total number of 65 374 Grade 1 learners) in 2011.
- The FSDoE had enrolled a total of 1557 children for pre-Grade R education.
The number of schools in the Free State who offer formal Grade R education increased to 611.
All public and independent schools offering Grade R and subsidised by FSDoE received resource packs provided by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The DBE started distributing workbooks for Grade R learners during 2012.
Improve the Quality of Early Childhood Development
Guidelines on Grade R monitoring and work schedules for the curriculum were developed in 2010. This was done to ensure that quality programmes are implemented at the early age of the child’s development as participation in Grade R is a crucial determinant of success in the first years of primary school. Other factors such as nutrition and health status are influential factors on early educational development. We encourage ECD sites and parents to observe immunisation periods for their children. All learners in a grade R class that is in a public primary school receive meals from the school’s nutrition programme.
Professional Services to Early Childhood Development Sites
Some of the initiatives taken by the FS Department of Education include;
- 120 Pre-grade R practitioners were trained on the Free State Department of Education Curriculum to ensure appropriate teaching and learning for the birth to four year olds. Ongoing monitoring was done to ensure effective implementation of the skills gained during the training. Each district has a Learning Facilitator who supports the sites.
- 25 retired teachers were interviewed to serve as Contract Trainers for the Pre-grade R practitioners. The two Further Education and Training Colleges, namely Motheo and Flavius Mareka, were appointed to train the 25 retired teachers who in turn trained 725 practitioners for the duration of six months starting from 01 March to 30 September 2011. Each contract trainer received a monthly stipend of R5 000.00.
- 196 out of 200 Pre-grade R teachers who were trained for National Qualifications Framework Level 5 graduated in 2010. There are also 152 under-qualified grade R educators who are also trained towards a Level 5 qualification.
- Currently 200 Pre-grade R practitioners are trained by the Further Education and Training Colleges towards National Qualifications Framework Level 5