Exploring the importance of early childhood stimulation in rural Howick West in Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.
Xulu, Palese Tracy.
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This study used qualitative research to investigate crèche educators’ beliefs of the role of early childhood stimulation in rural areas in Pietermaritzburg; taking into cognizance educators’ views on the role of play using toys as a form of stimulation. Considered in this study are the challenges and benefits experienced by educators participating in the Singakwenza early childhood intervention programme. Singakwenza early childhood intervention facilitator training challenges were also explored. The sample comprised of six rural educators and two facilitators that were all part of the Singakwenza early childhood intervention programme. Purposive sampling was used to recruit research participants whose ages ranged from 23 to 60 years. This study was aligned with the holistic approach and a social constructionist view of early childhood development. The findings showed that the educators’ beliefs about the role of stimulation is directly related to their personal childhood backgrounds having experienced stimulating activities growing up and later engaging in the Singakwenza intervention training programme. This highlighted educators’ beliefs that stimulation is important as it encourages development and growth in early childhood. Educators expressed feeling fulfilled in their professional role, as activities children engage in were applied at home and in the community. Educators also acknowledged the Department of Social Developments’ assistance with food grants, which they found to be very helpful as most children attending the crèches were from disadvantaged backgrounds. Some of the challenges educators faced ranged from parents’ lack of consideration for their children’s educational needs, to lack of educational space as classrooms were considered small due to the large volume of children in attendance. Singakwenza facilitators articulated facing challenges from educators who required ECD education for the Singakwenza intervention to be successful. It is recommended that ECD educators and facilitators collaborate with parents to establish a sharing of ideas on how to establish effective ECD outcomes. Facilitators need to acknowledge and embrace at the onset and throughout the intervention process that educators possess some level of ECD knowledge and work towards assisting educators to excel in their profession. This study recommends that DSD and other governmental departments provide training to officials from DSD, local government, DBE and other organisations interested in ECD to accurately and meaningfully assess and monitor ECD services.