The implementation of guidelines for early childhood development (ECD) services : an evaluation of early childhood development centres in Mkhambathini local municipality.
Shezi, Ncengiwe Siyabonga.
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In South Africa many children are affected by poverty and neglect. These children are underprivileged and experience poor performance in school and may even drop out (Department of Education, 2001: 4). Even though legislative prescripts mandate government to provide quality education, access is still a challenge. The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, civil society and the business sector are in agreement that the vision for the KwaZulu-Natal province is a “prosperous province with [a] healthy, secure and skilled population, acting as a gateway to Africa and the world” (KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Planning Commission, 2011: 6). Economic growth, improvement of people’s lives, reducing inequality, and promoting environmental sustainability is indeed a priority for the KwaZulu- Natal government (KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Planning Commission, 2011: 10). This study then aimed to evaluate the implementation of Guidelines for Early Childhood Development (ECD) Services looking at early childhood development centres in the Mkhambathini local municipality. The study seeks to contribute to current theories and specifically to the existing knowledge of the fact that in Africa there are disparities between policy statements and practice in early childhood development centres which have implications for policy implementation and quality education as a broad objective in developing countries. In this research study in-depth open ended interviews, direct observation, and document analyses were used. The researcher used a mixed method approach in sequential data collection. The findings of the study have been found to be consistent with previous studies conducted on ECD services. The findings reveal that there are discrepancies between the number of children that ECD centres are registered for and the number of children who attend the centres. The coverage implementation of ECD guidelines is biased; subgroups, disabled children, and children with special needs do not fully participate in or are not able to access services in the Mkhambathini municipality. The study argues that at this stage the guidelines for ECD services are not implemented as designed. The document lacks implementation strategies which take into account the environmental issues of the province of KwaZulu- Natal. The Guidelines for Early Childhood Development (ECD) Services set a high standard for ECD centres; too high for rural areas to comply with.