PRETORIA – South Africa should intensify efforts towards improving the foundation phase of learning and the early childhood development in an ongoing bid to turnaround overall education, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Monday.
Motshekga launched the first ever Africa Play Conference – a high-level event that will explore how learning through play can improve the quality of early childhood development (ECD) and become an integral part of the education systems on the continent — in Pretoria.
The department partnered with Unicef, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), and the LEGO Foundation.
“We are committed as a country, to ensure we embark on new and innovative endeavours that will impact Early Childhood Development and boost learners’ skills and competencies for the 21st century skills and the 4th Industrial Revolution across the length and breadth country.”
Motshekga said it was evident, basing from assessments like the ones conducted by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) that emphasis must be channeled towards the early childhood development level – to impact the whole education system.
“It is important for us as a country to put increased emphasis on the foundation phase and Early Childhood Development (ECD), if we hope to further improve education outcomes across the system," she said.
"It is evident from the regional and international assessment studies conducted, SACMEQ in particular, that we need to improve our ECD offerings. The SACMEQ IV assessment results show that countries, such as the Seychelles, which out-perform us in this assessment, have been able to do so in a large part, due to their early childhood development programmes.”
She also welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during the State of the Nation address on February 7, that there will be an intensified focus on ECD.
The International Africa Play Conference will be hosted in Pretoria, from February 25 to 27.
The LEGO Foundation’s Michael Renvillard said education systems should be adjusted to ensure that children can play, therefore fully activating their minds for problem solving, creativity and critical thinking.
“We need to reform education … to rethink education, how to actively engage children in a different way. It doesn’t negate that we need literacy, we need numeracy, but we need a broader skills development for that,” said Renvillard.
African News Agency (ANA)