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Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 03/2015

Across all research disciplines there is now widespread agreement that investment in early childhood development (ECD) brings high returns and can help close the gap between children from rich and poor households. Over the past decade grade R (the year before grade 1) has been the strongest policy lever used by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to improve early learning. The National Development Plan (NDP) has, however, called for universal access to two years of early childhood development prior to entering grade 1.

This brief is based on a study in which I analysed the available nationally representative datasets to identify the current participation trends of four and five year olds in early education institutions, the supply-side constraints to delivering a high-quality pre- Grade R year, and the challenges of implementing a universally accessible pre-grade R.