Resourceful Young Children

Resourceful Young Children
Learning Brief


Ikamva Labantu

Our experiential learning programme for ECD practitioners

Category: Resourceful Young Children | Comprehensive ECD package | 13 December, 2012 - 11:03

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Very few disadvantaged South African children receive adequate childhood education leaving them not ready for school which in turn leads to high rates of grade repetition and school drop-out.  This is both a result of the lack of formal ECD opportunities as well as the fact that parents have little knowledge on how to stimulate their children and other aspects impacting child development.

High levels of poverty and unemployment have made running a preschool for self-employment an attractive option for women living in impoverished township communities. Unfortunately the majority of them do not have the required training and experience in early childhood development. By educating and empowering them with appropriate skills we can ensure that the children in their care will be better equipped to enter formal schooling.

For many years we have provided training to the principals and teachers affiliated to our Ithemba Labantwana Forum consisting of over 400 local pre-schools in the Cape Town area. From an in-depth evaluation of the training provided on our behalf by different service providers, we have however learned that trainees are not effectively transferring the theory that they received in training to the classroom settings in the pre-schools where they work. This is compounded by the fact that there is very little post-training support or on-site monitoring.

We are addressing this problem by the development and implementation of an integrated education and support programme with a strong practical focus using an experiential teaching and learning approach.  The programme focusses on pre-school teachers who have limited schooling and no formal early childhood development training and who are working with children under the age of 7 years in informal pre-schools within disadvantaged communities in the Cape Metropole.  It also incorporates parents as a group needing support, encouragement and insight in order to effectively contribute to the development of their children.  

Our experiential learning process introduces childcare workers to the emotional world of the child, by understanding their own world first. The process is defined by listening, observing and doing which helps them to become independent critical learners, learning more from their own experience and depending less on the knowledge and guidance from experts. The ability to learn independently from one’s own experience might lead to a sustainable ECD intervention in the community and also a gentle, loving and kind environment in which children are nurtured.  Specific outcomes are as follows:

  • Improvement in the quality of early childhood development services for young children in a variety of settings, both centre-based and home-based
  • Demonstration by participants of the applied competence required to provide the special physical and emotional care and support needed by babies from birth to 24 months, especially with regard to feeding, toilet-training and providing emotional security. 
  • Enablement of participants to understand and respond appropriately to the basic needs of young children in all areas of their development within a specific phase of development and in a specific setting, e.g. centre-based or home-based by demonstrating:
  1. Hygienic preparation and storing of appropriate food  to meet the nutritional needs of babies and toddlers;
  2. Management of feeding routines (including breast-feeding by mothers) and weaning in ways that meet individual needs taking into consideration cultural traditions and parental preferences;
  3. Management of routine care-giving in ways that meet individual needs in accordance with cultural traditions and family practices and encourages adult-child interaction;
  4. Establishing relationships with each child that provides security and nurtures a sense of well being;
  5. Encouraging the development and sense of self and developmentally appropriate self-help skills;
  6. Providing appropriate comfort to babies and toddlers who are distressed.

The training takes place over a period of 10 months and consists of 14 sessions commencing at 09:30 to 15:00, once a week in our new ECD Training and Resource Centre in Khayelitsha. The centre houses training rooms, a model pre-school and a Parent Centre. Our strategy is to begin with small numbers and grow over the next few years as we gain more experience and the programme becomes bedded down. Forty ECD practitioners have been selected and will be trained in 2 groups and 45 children have been selected to attend the model pre-school.

All participants will complete pre-and-post assessment documentation to determine the level of achievement obtained by the learner which will be measured against the training goals as well as recording the participants’ personal learning experiences.  We look forward to reporting back on the effectiveness of the training and the changes in implementation quality after the training.


160 Sir Lowry Road, Cape Town


 + 27 21 461 8338


 www.ikamva.org

In Short

When Ikamva Labantu learned that their training was not effectively put to practice by local ECD practitioners, they developed a training and support programme that would allow the practitioner to learn from her own experience.  Could this be an effective way to ensure that practioners with little education and exprience can -and does- provide the best possible ECD service to children?


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