Successful early childhood development is an effort between parents, the community and the government.
Pre-primary education in South Africa starts when children are aged three and can run for a further four years until compulsory primary school education begins at aged seven. The government has recently stepped up efforts to ensure that more children are enrolled in pre-primary level schools, as they play an important role in early childhood development.
South Africa's Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme provides opportunities for fuller development of children. The main purpose is to protect children's rights and to develop their full emotional, social and physical potential. The ECD programme utilises different learning processes, enabling children to learn about the environment and themselves.
Children's rights and the ECD programme
The rights of young South African children (ages 0-3) are expansive and include: protection from physical danger, adequate nutrition and health care, appropriate immunisations, an adult with whom to form attachment, an adult who can understand and respond to their signals, things to look at, touch, hear, smell, taste, opportunities to explore their world, appropriate language stimulation, support in acquiring new motor, language and thinking skills, a chance to develop some independence, help in learning how to control their own behaviour, opportunities to begin to learn to care for themselves, daily opportunities to play with a variety of objects.
Pre-school aged children, also have the same rights, plus: Opportunities to develop motor skills; encouragement of language through talking, being read to, and singing; activities that will develop a sense of mastery; experimentation with pre-writing and pre-reading skills; hands-on exploration for learning through action; opportunities for taking responsibility and making choices to develop his or her full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential.
Preschool sytems in South Africa
There are two preschool systems in South Africa: one is funded by the government and regulated provincially, and the other is independent and run by communities or private bodies.
Both the government and private programs consist of two main components: pre-grade R and Grade R programmes. Pre-Grade R programmes are meant for children between 0-4 years of age, and Grade R (Reception Year) programmes are meant for 5-6 year-old children. Lessons focus on language, mathematics, life skills, technology, arts and culture.
Childcare in South Africa
Most families in South Africa take advantage of domestic help, such as housekeepers, nannies and gardeners. Domestic workers are protected by law, and all rules and regulations regarding domestic workers can be found on the Department of Labour website.
There is a minimum wage of R1066 per month for staff in urban areas, but this is hardly enough to live on and it's not recommended if you are looking for high quality staff. If you want the domestic worker to look after children, the recommended wage begins at R1800 and becomes higher if the staff has good references and experience.
An au-pair is another option used by many families. Nannies are not expected to do housework, but they will collect children from school, do the shopping and maybe some light chores.