Original Research

Education and training experiences of early childhood care and education practitioners in rural and urban settings of Durban, South Africa

Pam P. Zulu, Adebunmi Y. Aina, Keshni Bipath
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 12, No 1 | a1167 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v12i1.1167 | © 2022 Pam P. Zulu, Adebunmi Y. Aina, Keshni Bipath | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2021 | Published: 25 May 2022

About the author(s)

Pam P. Zulu, Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Adebunmi Y. Aina, Department of Educational Management and Policy Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Keshni Bipath, Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The education and training experiences of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) practitioners reflect gaps and inequalities in South Africa’s educational system. Most South African ECCE centre practitioners do not have the appropriate qualifications to provide quality education to young learners.

Aim: The study aimed to explore how the education and training experiences of ECCE practitioners impact their professional identity in urban and rural settings in KwaZulu-Natal province and to develop a model that would enhance the education and training of ECCE practitioners.

Setting: Ten participants were selected for this study: one centre head and four practitioners from a rural setting, and one centre head and four practitioners from an urban area.

Methods: Wenger’s social theory of learning was used to obtain an in-depth understanding of ECCE practitioners’ education and training experiences and how they function as professional workers. An interpretative, qualitative case study was adopted. Data was collected through focus group semi-structured interviews and non-participants’ observation and then analysed thematically.

Results: The findings revealed that practitioners in rural settings had to contend with unfair working conditions daily, working all day in challenging circumstances whilst earning low incomes. Urban practitioners worked reasonable hours and received living wages, although they also experienced challenges such as a lack of parental involvement, lack of transport for children and high rates of absenteeism.

Conclusion: Inequalities between rural and urban practitioners existed concerning resources, salaries, working conditions and further study and professional growth opportunities. Ensuring that practitioners attain proper Early Childhood Care (ECC) qualifications will raise the profession’s esteem amongst wider communities.


Keywords

early childhood care and education; practitioner’s qualifications and training; professional identity; rural and urban settings; Child Care practitioners; Early Childhood Development

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