PIECCE - Project for Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education

Sheila Drew

PIECCE is a collaborative project led by UNISA, Saide, Bridge and the Centre for Social Development at Rhodes University. The aim of the project is to encourage the different sections in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) to work more closely together and contribute to building a system for ECCE teacher education in South Africa. Sheila Drew provides an update on the progress of the project.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) will be offering the new Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) birth to 4 years (Level 6) and Bachelor of Education in ECCE birth-4 years (Level 7) programmes by 2021. The following HEIs have set in motion the required application and accreditation processes internally, and with the relevant authorities, namely the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Council for Higher Education:

  1. Cape Peninsula University - DIP ECCE (Level 6)
  2. University of Free State - DIP ECCE (Level 6)
  3. UNISA - DIP ECCE (Level 6)
  4. University of Fort Hare - DIP ECCE (Level 6) & BED ECCE (Level 7)
  5. North West University - BED ECCE (Level 7)
  6. University of KwaZulu-Natal - BED ECCE (Level 7)
  7. University of Pretoria - BED ECCE (Level 7)
  8. University of Witwatersrand - BED ECCE (Level 7)
  9. Walter Sisulu University - BED ECCE (Level 7)
  10. University of Western Cape - Higher Certificate ECCE (Level 5)

All of the HEIs listed above submitted their applications to the relevant authorities based on the draft, working frameworks. We understand they will be able to make some changes to their applications should there be amendments to the frameworks when they are finalised.

Now that we have a better understanding of the programme framework, we have realised that the support that teacher educators need includes conceptual understanding of innovative and contextual ideas, as well as pedagogical understanding. We believe that the best way to provide this support is to design six ‘illustrative packs’, rather than simply content of six full modules, across six areas of the programme in which we are trying to convey new ideas that ‘make a difference’. The consortium has chosen the following six areas for the ‘illustrative packs’:

  1. Learning environments (including play);
  2. Becoming a professional;
  3. Constructions of childhood (including pedagogy);
  4. Language diversity and multilingualism, play and pedagogy;
  5. Relationships (families / communities), health, safety & nutrition; and
  6. Work Integrated Learning.

There was an acknowledgement by HEI consortium members that they do not have extensive on-the-ground knowledge and experience in the Birth to Four space. Many of the practitioners working in these centres are NGO-trained, while university lecturers involved in the consortium have focused more on teacher education for the Foundation phase, in the context of more formal schooling. For this reason, we asked the NGO partners to plan site visits combined with learning seminars during PIECCE workshops. The first site visits and learning seminars were conducted at a materials working group meeting organised in Bloemfontein by Ntataise followed by more sites visits in early 2019 organised in KwaZulu Natal by  Training and Resources in Early Childhood (TREE). These proved to be informative and stimulating for all concerned. It also strengthened the idea that different sectors in ECD, such as the NGO and Higher Education sectors, can collaborate to learn from each other.

We are exploring new ways of engaging with the wider stakeholder groups in the ECD sector. During the 2018 year-end core team meeting we reflected on the questions:

  • How do we harness what is already happening in the sector in order to consult and get input into the draft framework?
  • What issues do we need to prioritise to engage more deeply and consolidate as part of the frameworks?
  • What are alternative strategies to getting feedback from the sector?

As a result of our conversation around these questions we have refined our original stakeholder strategy to prioritise five important areas:

  1. Recognition of Prior Learning
  2. Play across the Birth to Nine continuum
  3. Developmental Education (Academic Support and Development)
  4. Africanisation and Belonging
  5. Inclusivity
  6. Work Integrated Learning

We plan to hold a set of focussed discussions in a Community of Practice and a Knowledge Seminar in mid 2019 with the aim of deepening and consolidating our understanding of these components of the framework. We will use our learning to refine the existing chapters for the final version of the Frameworks.

More detail on the project is available in a recent PIECCE Communique.