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Free in-service online course for ECD practitioners and foundation phase educators

“Play-based learning should be considered as a critical component of the holistic development of children from birth until the age of six when they enter into the schooling system,” said Ms Ayanda Sithole, PLAYSA Marketing Manager.

On 25 November 2017, the DBE, in partnership with PLAYSA and Cotlands, organised a PLAYSA open day aimed at promoting the in-service online course which seeks to empower more than 150,000 Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners and Foundation Phase educators across the country The event took place at the Dennis Hurley Centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The implementation of play-based learning forms part of the South African National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for Children from birth to four years. The NCF contributes directly to the Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030 which through its Goal 1 of 27 goals, emphasises the importance of improving quality teaching and learning in the foundation phase. Goal 1 encourages Government to increase the number of learners in Grade 3 who, by the end of the year, have mastered the minimum language and numeracy competencies for Grade 3.

In the foreword in the NCF, Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga said, “Delays in cognitive and overall development before schooling can often have long lasting and costly consequences for children, families and society. The most effective and cost-efficient time to intervene is before birth and in the early years of life. The NCF is one of the activities aimed at improving the quality of basic education by laying a solid foundation in the early years. The NCF therefore will ensure that children from different backgrounds in different settings have access to quality ECD services”.

“The play-based learning is integrated with NCF and CAPS in order to improve quality services of all ECD centres to be in a good positon to develop children towards optimal growth. At the end of the course participants receive a certificate and 15 Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) points that are recognised by the South African Council for Educators (SACE). PLAY offers teachers an opportunity to deal with learning barriers amongst children whilst creating an environment where learning is fun. In other words play-based learning can serve as a crucial mechanism to help teachers in identifying the potential of children at an early age,” said Ms Sithole.

The Cotlands Chairperson, Mr Dumisani Ncala, acknowledged the DBE for having prioritised quality teaching in the foundation phase, adding that, “the partnership will help us to speed up the process of bringing more well trained ECD facilitators in the foundation phase to play a crucial role in the facilitation of the play group approach.” Cotlands is currently an implementing partner which is responsible for the co-ordination of the on-line self-directed training for ECD facilitators.

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