Original Research

Enhancing the well-being of early childhood education practitioners working in resource-constrained contexts

Lesley Wood, Stef Esterhuizen
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 14, No 1 | a1477 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v14i1.1477 | © 2024 Lesley Wood, Stef Esterhuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 November 2023 | Published: 12 April 2024

About the author(s)

Lesley Wood, Community-Based Educational Research (COMBER), Faculty of Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Stef Esterhuizen, Community-Based Educational Research (COMBER), Faculty of Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Background: The recent migration of early childhood care and education function brought with it many changes that affect the workplace well-being of practitioners and centre managers, yet little research has reported on the voices and experiences of those working on the ground.

Aim: To find out the current state of well-being of practitioners working in resource-constrained contexts to help us theorise how might they take action to improve it.

Setting: Early childhood care and education centres in rural and township areas in six different provinces.

Methods: The first author conducted 10 semi-structured focus group interviews with 80 practitioners recruited by collaborating researchers at various universities. All ethical protocols were adhered to. The focus groups were audio-taped, transcribed and thematically analysed independently by the two authors before reaching consensus.

Results: Two themes were identified: (1) participants experienced negative emotions arising from both internal and systemic aspects that were affecting their well-being. (2) Several factors promoted the well-being of practitioners despite their difficult circumstances.

Conclusion: Based on the findings, it appears that close collaboration among practitioners within centres and, with other external stakeholders, was an important factor for enhanced well-being. Drawing from action learning theory, we suggest how practitioners can collaborate to sustain their well-being while addressing the challenges they face.

Contribution: This collaborative action learning approach can be applied not only by ECCE centres, but to any organisation wishing to improve the well-being and practice of their members.


early childhood education; critical action learning; community of practice; community hubs; positive psychology; capability theory

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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