Entering big school can be daunting for any child, but it is particularly daunting for children who have never held a crayon or paged through a book.
More than 60% of children entering Grade 1 this year have not been afforded quality early learning opportunities. This means that the majority of these young pupils have already lost out on the critical window of opportunity that will allow them to excel in the formal classroom.
“It is essential that while we celebrate in the excitement of entering Grade R or Grade 1, we also focus our attention on the foundation phases that will enable children to cope better in their academic career,” said Jackie Schoeman, Cotlands CEO.
The path to a good education and a successful career starts early. High-quality early learning from birth to age 5 helps children enter formal school ready to learn and prepared to thrive in school and beyond. Positive early childhood experiences also build the foundation for a skilled workforce, a responsible community, and a thriving economy.
According to a study undertaken by the Bridgespan Group and the Pritzker Children's Initiative, vulnerable children who do not receive quality early childhood development (ECD) services are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become teen parents, and 60 percent less likely to attend university.
The study goes on to show that investment in high-quality early childhood development programmes for vulnerable children from birth to age five delivers a 7–10 percent annual return on investment through better education, health, social and economic outcomes, increased productivity, and the reduced need for social spending.
Investment in early childhood education programmes, many of which also begin at the start of the school year, is critical. Cotlands encourages the corporate sector and individuals to consider supporting non-profits that provide quality early childhood learning programmes. Signs of quality assurance include measureable impact of the programme, the sustainability of the programme and the programme’s adaptability to meet the needs of the community.