Original Research

Towards quality early childhood development for refugee children: An exploratory study of a Grade R class in a Durban child care centre

Rasheedah O. Adams-Ojugbele, Relebohile Moletsane
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a616 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.616 | © 2019 Rasheedah O. Adams-Ojugbele, Relebohile Moletsane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 January 2018 | Published: 10 July 2019

About the author(s)

Rasheedah O. Adams-Ojugbele, Discipline of Early Childhood Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood Campus, Pinetown, South Africa
Relebohile Moletsane, Discipline of Education and Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood Campus, Pinetown, South Africa

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Background: As populations of refugee children increase globally, strategies for providing quality and relevant educational experiences for this group of children has become a priority. This is because research suggests that refugee children tend to experience higher school dropout rates due to, among other factors, poverty, lack of shelter and inadequate nutrition.

Aim: This article reports on an exploratory study of Grade R teachers’ interactions with refugee children in a child care centre in Durban and the ways in which these might contribute to the children’s readiness for Grade 1 in mainstream schools.

Setting: The study was located in a Grade R class in a Durban refugee child care centre catering for children from neighbouring African countries.

Methods: The study adopted a qualitative ethnographic approach involving classroom and playground observations, as well as informal open-ended interviews with the Grade R teacher and her assistant.

Results: The findings suggest that several factors, including a high teacher–learner ratio (1:48), poor classroom management and pedagogical practices, inadequate and inappropriate resources and a lack of professional development opportunities for teachers influenced the nature of interactions between the refugee children and their teachers.

Conclusions: The findings have negative implications for the children’s readiness for Grade 1 and beyond. The findings suggest that unless the provision of early childhood development and education (ECDE) in this centre is significantly improved, for example, by addressing the factors identified in the study, the refugee children in the facility will continue to be poorly prepared for mainstream schooling.


classroom interactions; early childhood education and development; refugee children; Grade R; school readiness


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