Original Research

Sources of inequality in South African early child development services

Carol Aubrey
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 7, No 1 | a450 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v7i1.450 | © 2017 Carol Aubrey | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2016 | Published: 22 March 2017

About the author(s)

Carol Aubrey, Centre for Education Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

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This article seeks to examine critically South African early child development (ECD) in order to uncover some of the challenges that lie ahead in creating a more equitable future for its youngest children. An investigation of play and learning within varied ECD contexts, using observation and interview, is presented. The social constructionist approach adopted allowed exploration of play and learning from the perspectives of a range of stakeholders. Three themes, role of play, sources of inequality and barriers to play, are interrogated. The role and contribution of the concepts of readiness, needs and play to maintaining unequal treatment of vulnerable children are identified. The possibility that these concepts may serve as mechanisms to reproduce social and cultural inequality is considered.


ECD in South Africa; concepts of ‘readiness’, ‘needs’ and ‘play’; social and cultural inequality


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