Prof Nosisi Feza, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Postgraduate Studies at the University of Venda, recently participated in Early Child Development (ECD) study which was launched on Friday, 08 April 2022. Prof Feza’s participation in this study is in line with the University’s strategic direction of making impact in the community. This is the South Africa’s first early childhood Index, the Thrive by Five Index, to be launched to the public. The Thrive by Five Index provides nationally and provincially representative data on the proportion of preschool children who are on track for age in key areas of development, including cognitive development, socio-emotional wellbeing, and height for age. Data collection included assessments of over 5000 children aged 50 to 59 months, enrolled in almost 1400 early learning programmes across the country.
The Index was initiated as a partnership between Innovation Edge and FNB and is launched as a collaborative effort between private, public and non-profit sectors. The anchor government department for the Index is the Department of Basic Education.
Prof Feza’s research interests are on early childhood numeracy development grounded on Vygotsky’s social construction as well as Piaget autonomy concept on intellectual autonomy.
Key findings of the study show that generally, 1 out of every 3 children between 4 and 5 demonstrates a developing numeracy that indicates being on track and ready for formal schooling, while the other 2 out 3 learners do not meet the standard.
In terms of gender performance, girls perform above boys by 0.24%. It is important to note that nationally both girls and boys perform above average. This shows that both girls and boys contributed to the group of children on track with girls dominating.
Provincially, the numeracy performance of 4- to 5-year-olds brings an interesting dynamic with the Mpumalanga Province leading with 54% of children on track meeting the minimum standards for their numeracy development. Out of the 9 Provinces only 4 have children above overall average who meet the minimum standards of numeracy development. The four (4) Provinces including Mpumalanga are, Limpopo, Gauteng, and Western Cape in that order. The provinces with the lowest percentage of children on track is KwaZulu Natal with 21.4%.
This concludes that the 33, 9% of children who are on track come from both Quintile 2, 5 and are dominated by girls.
According to Prof Feza, South Africa need to focus more on the access and quality of preschool provision with numeracy stimulation. Access to quality preschool should be the key towards laying strong foundation for successful schooling.
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
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Date: 10 April 2022