Introducing Reggio Emilia - A baseline Study at the Ndlovu Pre-schools
Laan, J. van der
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High quality early childhood education and care provides one of the few effective policy means of increasing social and economic opportunities for disadvantaged (minority) communities and thereby provides a way out of the poverty trap (Heckman, 2006). Therefore, the Ndlovu Care Group and Utrecht University will start the development of a pre-school intervention program for children in a rural township in South Africa. The aim of this intervention is to improve the pre-school education at the pre-schools Tholulwazi and Kopanang of Ndlovu Care Group. The proposed intervention will include a Reggio Emilia approach to pre-school education. The aim of this research project was to explore what aspects of the pre-schools should be changed by the intervention, in order to improve the pre-school education. The context of the pre-schools will also be explored, to promote a fit between the context and the intervention (Pawson & Tilley, 1997). The main research questions of this research project were: (1) What processes at the pre-schools should change by the intervention, in order to improve the pre-school education? (2) How does the context interact with these processes? (3) Would the Reggio Emilia approach to pre-school education fit the intervention and the context of the Ndlovu pre-schools? These questioned were studied by a range of methods in five studies. The first study focused on the processes that influence the childcare quality and was needed to answer the first main research question. Study two to five describe the context of the pre-schools and were needed to answer the second main research question. The results showed that the current pre-school quality is limited due to a lack of materials, insufficient rest and meals of nutritional value for the children, an increased risk of injury or sickness, insufficient visual stimulation, insufficient stimulation of the social-emotional development, the needs of the teachers and caregivers were not met and paperwork at the pre-schools was not kept up to date. Results showed that the context had a big impact on these processes through the cultural orientation and the childcare beliefs of the teachers. Implementing an intervention with a Reggio Emilia approach to teaching would be a challenge but one that brings a fruitful contribution to the learning and development of the children at the Ndlovu pre-schools.