Skip to main content

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP15.2015

Publication date: 2015

Investment in early childhood development (ECD) has the prospect of cultivating potential within individuals and can assist in bridging the social equity gap from a very young age. Over the past decade Grade R has been the strongest policy lever used by the Department of Basic Education to improve early learning. The National Development Plan calls for universal access to two years of early childhood development prior to entering Grade 1. This paper explores the merits of this proposal, given the specific South African context. More specifically, this analysis intends to bring new information to bear on three matters. The first relates to the demand side and aims to identify participation trends among four- and five-year-olds. The second objective is to consider the supply side and aims to understand the policy space in which pre-Grade R will function, the quality and quantity of infrastructure already in place, and the expertise of ECD practitioners. The final matter considers the implementation of a universally accessible pre-Grade R within a constrained system and the requirements to ensure that it will have a significant impact on those children most in need.

JEL Classification:
I20, I21, I28

National Development Plan, childhood development, quality preschool, pre Grade R, early childhood care and education, policy