A new paradigm in Early Childcare Education on the South African landscape

Some More Lessons from 2020 for ECD

Setting the Scene for a New Normal

"A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires."  

~ Paulo Coelho"

 

Introduction

We have written quite extensively in the last three months about COVID and its impact on the ECD environment. But it seems the more one reads on the topic, the more new lessons are coming to the fore.
 
A case in point is a new blog that appeared under the Innovative Edge banner. They highlight some common perceptions among ECD educators, the most significant being:
 

  • For the first time, parents, teachers, and policymakers are feeling the pain simultaneously.
 
  • While schools can go online, early education struggles to do so. The work of children – to play - is removed and parental routines are suffering as a result.
 
  • The system of early learning and care we have is being subjected to new stressors.

 
They go on to underscore some new trends that have come to the fore. We have added and made changes to some of these, based on our insights as ECD teachers and trainers.

Trends

  • Trend One. The science and economics behind early learning are clear but the space needs a new approach and new communication initiatives to get the priority it deserves.
 
  • Trend Two. Parents, especially in third world countries, have unequal and poor access to information on early learning. Even though it is generally recognized that a child’s mind and development is largely completed by age five, there seems to be no systemic approach to prioritize ECD, as opposed to learning in primary and secondary schools.
 
  • Trend Three. We need a 21st century understanding of what technology can (and cannot!) do for us — this means co-designing with parents and revamping learning for ages 4+.
 
  • Trend Four. We tend to accept that online teaching is not possible for toddlers. But is that truly the case?
 
  • Trend 5. ECD educators need new skills to equip them for the modern-day challenges. Skills like leadership, management, and strategic planning capabilities.
 
  • Trend 6. In some countries, the ECD sector may never get on its feet again. Every time there is a new wave of infections, it results in new school closures. This is forcing parents to drastically rethink their future way of life and work. Parents can not keep on taking off from work to look after young children. This does tend to make one wonder though, whether permanent home schooling for youngsters by well-qualified and well-paid teachers may not be the way forward – i.e. insource your child’s care and training, rather than outsource it.
 
  • Trend 7. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) training may get new priority, especially for the Grade R levels, as this is one type of education that does lend itself to being remotely taught.

 
Conclusion

No doubt the end of learning lessons to be learned, as taught to us by COVID, is not yet in sight. As we get buffeted by successive waves of COVID it is likely to give us new insights into mankind’s ability to adapt, replan, and refocus. For the ECD sector, this is likely to perhaps be more challenging than for many others.
 

References 
 
Innovation Edge. THE YEAR FOR EARLY LEARNING AND CHILDCARE: COVID-19 INSIGHTS. https://innovationedge.org.za/the-year-for-early-learning-and-childcare-covid-19-insights/

Wang, J. Image. Unsplash.com


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