The ANC, as part of their 2014 election manifesto, propose adding another year to the school timetable, in addition to Grade R, which is already being phased in. Chapter nine of the government’s development blueprint states that two years of quality preschool enrolment for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds be made compulsory before Grade 1. Although in some ways this is an exciting demonstration of a real commitment to ECD, and potentially enables budgetary support for ECD, it also raises some concerns. The current roll-out of Grade R has been fraught we reports of low quality and poor teacher training, but additionally there are concerns from ECD experts with regards to formalising schooling too early.
In an article published on the New Scientist website, David Whitebread, a developmental psychologist at the University of Cambridge and Sue Bingham, an early childhood education consultant, describe some of the concerns regarding the British system which prescribe formal schooling from 4 or 5 years of age. Read it here.
Another interesting and relevant article comes from Dr Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College. It draws attention to the importance of creating time and opportunity for children to play if we would like them to have happy, productive and moral lives. Read it here.
What do you think – would another year of compulsory pre-school education in South Africa be a good thing or not?