An early childhood development programme in a rural settlement community
Author(s)Van der Vyver, Sonja
KeywordsEarly childhood education
Head start programs
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractM.Ed. (Adult Education)
To address the need for early childhood education in a small rural settlement in Gauteng, South Africa, a crèche was established by external development agents with corporate donor funding. Three untrained mothers from the community volunteered as lay practitioners at the crèche. An organic process of training of these teachers and of developing a curriculum ensued. From the challenges presented by and the tensions arising from this initial process the following research questions emerged: What is the process of developing an (organic) ECD curriculum with practitioner training in a rural community? and; What are the emerging tensions in such a process and how are they managed in Participatory Action Research (PAR) mode? A review of literature included aspects of early childhood education in South Africa and elsewhere and explored issues of community development, ECD and teacher development as well. Several examples of early childhood curriculum approaches from abroad and from Africa were compared and investigated for their possible relevance to the context of rural South Africa. The study was designed as a case and, because the situation at the site involved several stakeholders such as parents, development practitioners and the community committee, involved in a rural community development project, it predisposed the investigation to PAR as research design. Participation and collaboration between the researcher and all stakeholders through recurring cycles of planning, action and reflection distinguish the process of data collection of this inquiry. The perceptions and voices of the members of the community and the teachers form an integral part of this process. In-depth interviews with teachers, parents and the community leader; participant observation by the co-researcher, and documents and artefact collection were used as data collecting strategies. An inductive process of content analysis was employed during which the different data sets were first coded separately where after provisional categories were induced from the codes. The categories for the different data sets were then integrated and refined to themes. From these themes a pattern was identified from which the main findings of the inquiry were drawn. During the actual data collection process the researcher collaborated with a co-researcher who was also the teacher trainer. This collaboration served to address possible obstacles such as a language barrier and the challenges presented by the researcher‟s position as development practitioner. The participatory nature of this inquiry is further reiterated by the data sources that were selected. These include perceptions of different role players in the intervention, such as the teachers, parents, teacher-trainer, the development practitioners and community leader were elicited by means of some existing and some purposefully designed data sources. Because it was one of the main units of analysis for this study, the experiences of the teachers were explored in-depth over time and by means of data from several different data sources. Data from different sources were also integrated and the articulation of these different sources contributed to the validity of the study.