Earlier this week the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released its first global report on pre-primary school education titled, A world ready to learn: Prioritizing early childhood education
In the report UNICEF highlighted South Africa’s efforts in rolling out pre-primary education to children.
According to SA News, the report reveals that children enrolled in at least one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills they need to succeed in school. It also emphasises a lack of investment in pre-primary education by the majority of governments worldwide.
“Pre-primary schooling is our children’s educational foundation, every stage of education that follows relies on its success, yet too many children around the world are denied this opportunity. This increases their risk of repeating grades or dropping out of school altogether and relegate them to the shadows of their more fortunate peers,” said UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore.
In addition the publication states that the report outlines a set of practical recommendations for governments and partners to make quality pre-primary education universal and routine. It makes an example of South Africa’s achievement in early childhood education after 1994 to date, highlighting the expansion of the Grade R class.
“South Africa introduced pro-poor subsides to provide additional funds to the poorest 40 percent of schools, primarily used to supply additional learning materials and to reduce the number of children per class room,” adds UNICEF.
The report states that South Africa launched a three-year pilot project to test the feasibility of introducing a year of pre-primary education at scale, with the national reception year Grade R introduced in 2001 for children aged 5 years, with the goal of reaching universal access by 2010 and making Grade R compulsory by 2019.
UNICEF outlined that nearly 157 million children, 50 percent of the worlds pre-primary age population, are not enrolled in pre-primary programmes. UNICEF urged governments to commit 10 percent of their national education budget to scale them up.