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The article is structured as follows: It commences with a brief background sketch of education in general in South Africa, and Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) in particular.

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Grade R (kindergarten) has formed part of the Foundation Phase (Grade R to Grade 3) education policy since 1998.Former national Minister of Education Kadar Asmal wished Grade R to be compulsory for every five- to six-year-old child from 2010, enjoining the departments of education of the provinces to commit to the implementation of the preschool year as a priority in 2010; this target was later extended to 2014 by President Jacob Zuma (Zuma 2009).Quintile one to three schools are usually no-fee schools, though school fees are not compulsory in public schools in South Africa.The purpose of this article is to report on the findings of research about the school readiness levels of Grade R learners in Grade R classes attached to quintile one to five primary schools in the Gauteng province.This problem is exacerbated by the fact that (since 2004) many primary schools enrol Grade 1 learners if they turn six before the end of June of the year that they enter Grade 1, even if they have not attended a Grade R class.

From a developmental point of view this complicates the task of Grade 1 teachers, as it means that some Grade 1 learners can be five and a half years old and others seven years old.This article reports on research requested by the Gauteng Department of Education about the school readiness of Grade R learners.The school readiness performance of 114 Grade R learners was measured by means of a standardized school readiness test.Unfortunately, most of the teachers appointed in Grade R classes only possess the minimum qualifications required for this specialized work.Unsurprisingly, officials of the education department of South Africa's most populous and economically most progressive province, Gauteng, became concerned about the fact that Grade R learners in preschool classes at primary schools in the province did not attain school readiness.Linguistic and cognitive readiness implies that a learner is able to understand the concepts used in the language of learning and teaching (LOLT) of the Foundation Phase.