An exploratory study of the challenges and opportunities that early childhood development centre principles experience in providing services to children in Gugulethu Township, Cape Town

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This research project, entitled 'An exploratory study of the challenges and opportunities that early childhood development centre principals experience in providing services to children in Gugulethu Township, Cape Town? adopted a qualitative research design using a semistructured interview schedule for face-to-face interviews with participants. It comprised of 20 participants, all female aged between 44 and 74 years, who had worked as principals in a registered ECD centre for three years and above. The sample was arrived at using a purposive sampling method. The study revealed that principals are faced with a number of challenges. Key among them are burglary;; poor communication coupled with inadequate subsidies often paid late by the Department of Social Development;; poor salaries and infrastructure;; lack of fundraising skills and trained teachers;; and inadequate funds, food, educational equipment, blankets and mattresses for children. To address these challenges, principals receive support from the government, namely, the provincial Departments of Social Development and Education, and the City of Cape Town, in the form of subsidies. In addition, they receive various forms of support from the private sector, non-governmental organisations, ECD centres, parents and their communities. The study proposed a set of recommendations to the government (national, provincial and the City of Cape Town), private sector, non-government organisations, the Gugulethu community and principals with an aim to provide support to address the challenges that principals faced. Among the main recommendations were for the national government to take a proactive and bold decision to improve the conditions of service for ECD principals as a matter of urgency as they play a crucial role in building the learning foundation for children. It was also recommended that the private sector should develop sustainable partnerships with ECD centres in Gugulethu. They could, for instance, contribute to the establishment of a community fund to support the operation of ECD centres. In addition, the study recommends that NGOs should support ECD principals to lobby and advocate not only for improved conditions of service but also increased government funding to the ECD sector. Furthermore, the research study unearthed some issues which need answers. It is recommended that further research be conducted to explore the practicality of government employing principals and teachers in the ECD sector. Collective capacity is essential in solving some of the challenges experienced by principals when providing services to children in Gugulethu. It is recommended that the community, working in collaboration with the government, NGOs and the private sector, should be involved in improving ECD centres. For example, parents who do not work could volunteer during the week to assist with the maintenance of ECD centre grounds and buildings while those who work could do the same over the weekends. For principals, it was recommended that, with the support of NGOs and other stakeholders, they should lobby and advocate strongly for improved working conditions and for inclusion in decision making at local, provincial and national government levels.