Eveline de Klerk
Early childhood development centres are a vital component in the education of children, offering them a much-needed boost to excel in schools.This is according to Sandra Owoses, a pre-primary teacher of Swakopmund who is of the opinion that early childhood centres play a major role in Erongo, especially in towns such as Walvis Bay and Swakopmund that continuously face a shortage of classrooms to accommodate grade one learners.
Owoses says such centres have been instrumental in preparing Grade O learners, especially at the coast where classroom shortages are persistent at primary schools, thereby excluding many learners from being enrolled for their first education milestone.
“Our role is critical, seeing that it prepares our children for grade 1. In many cases, our centres take the learners that cannot be accommodated at school for grade O and give them the first real feeling of going to school.
According to Owoses, she started her school as a normal day-care for children under the age of five, but realise the gap between grade 0 and grade 1, seeing that there were children that struggled to be accommodated at schools.
“That is why I took it upon myself to focus on the preparation of Grade 0 learners, she explained. Another pre-primary teacher Linda Amutenya says early childhood centres are indeed a support system for the country’s education system.
They are not only feeders of formal schools but are also instrumental in instilling the basic principles of education. We somehow shape the mindset of children from a tender age,” she explained.
Immanuel Ruiters school principal Dominica Ortman-Gawises added that such centres assist teachers a great deal, as they already lay the foundation of education.
“In many cases, children who are not exposed to such centres often struggle to adapt a school and sometimes deal with anxiety and separation issues, especially when they attend grade one straight from home,” she explained.
As such, she said she would definably recommend to parents to enrol children. However, this is not a requirement at all for grade one learners.
Tutaleni Primary school principal John Damaseb also echoed the same sentiment, saying early childhood development centres and programmes put a child in a better position in terms of coping with the new environment. “The pressure on such a child is really not that much, as he is in a better position to do the basics needed in grade one. However, in order to accommodate learners who did not have such an opportunity, the schools dedicate the first six weeks in basic school readiness to bring such children on par with the others,” Damaseb said.