The South African Bill of Rights makes provision for children’s socio-economic rights. This includes the right to basic education and social services. However, according to Unicef’s early childhood statistical snapshot, over 200 million children under 5 years of age in low and middle-income countries – and increasing numbers in OECD countries and emerging economies – will face inequalities and fail to reach their full developmental potential. This is due to a number of risk factors including poverty which often can lead to heightened risks of substance abuse, crime and depression.
To avoid these risks and consequences in the later stages of a child’s life, early childhood development should be a key focus for every country. Early childhood spans the period up to 9 years of age which is critical for social, emotional and cognitive development. If a child is left to grow up without the proper care and education, this can lead to irreversible damage and hamper development. By investing in early childhood education, South Africa can yield long lasting benefits. Studies have shown that early childhood development play a crucial role in helping mitigate the impact of adverse early experiences.
Although South Africa still has a long way to go, it is not all doom and gloom. The Sparrow Foundation School realises the importance of early childhood development and has introduced a multifaceted remedial teaching centre. The centre will soon be extended to include a Maths Enrichment Centre and a Natural Science & Technology centre adding on to the existing Literacy Enrichment centre.
The three centres are designed to accommodate every learner’s individual style and maximise the learner’s full potential to learn and acquire a new skill. The multi-media Literacy Enrichment centre is designed to focus on the improvement of literacy levels among all learner’s enrolled in the Foundation School. The Maths Enrichment centre utilises blended teaching practices and instructional design, equipped with computer based teaching software. The aim is to improve numeracy levels among all the Foundation School learners. The multi-disciplinary and adaptable Natural Science & Technology Centre aims to expose the learner to various building blocks of the world around us and how they in our ever changing modern environment.
The remedial centre will play a crucial role in helping produce quality human capital adding value to South Africa’s economy. It also ensures that the minority of learners with ‘special needs’ are able to compete and match up to those learners with ‘ordinary needs’.