Education for sustainable futures : an appropriate approach for early childhood development from birth to five years

Bongoza, Nomandla (2018-03)

Thesis (MCom)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The 21st century is marked by numerous challenges ranging from environmental degradation, resource depletion, pollution, poverty and inequality to poor education outcomes especially in the global south. This study explores a system of learning that seems to integrate ECD training/curricular with the principles of sustainable development. While it is conceivable in theory, I attempted to explore how the thinking in sustainable development translates into practice in the early learning space. The research was done by means of a literature review and practical research conducted at two early learning centres in Cape Town (Lynedoch Children’s House and GROW with Reaching Stars in Khayelitsha). This study employed qualitative research approach using ethnographic participant observation, literature review and case studies. The data was analysed using qualitative content analysis. The literature reviewed highlighted the benefits of starting early in terms of instilling values of sustainable development in children. The benefits align with the sustainable development basic principles that recognise the unbreakable connection between social and economic development tied to environment conservation and care. Additionally, children who are connected to the environment may well have a predisposition to care for the environment throughout life. Literature also revealed that children are capable of being agents of change and they understand issues related to inequality. Even though the concepts of sustainable development are seen to be challenging to introduce at an early childhood development level, research shows that children are capable of exploring and understanding complex issues. Quality learning, learning in context and education for sustainable development were the overarching themes in the literature reviewed. Using a participant observation research method I observed two case studies in Lynedoch and Khayelitsha. The case studies were chosen for explorative study of the two different contexts of learning that provide different perspectives in learning for sustainability. The Khayelitsha school uses a method that greatly focusses on the cognitive development of a child a dominant method in South African early learning space. Lynedoch Chidren’s House uses Montessori Method of education that has been reported to be one of the methods that embody principles of sustainable development. The method recognises that the environments that children are exposed to positive or negative have far reaching effects on their future. There is a need to re-educate ourselves in order to change the trajectory in which we are found. Humans need education that helps us become better people who care for one another, other living things, the environment and where humanity can realise its aspirations. The findings from both case studies is the importance of early learning that provides holistic development of a child, connection to nature, child centeredness, and connection with other humans and living things. Learning in context was also identified as one of the key factors that drive quality learning and Education for Sustainability. There is a need to find local solutions to global problems. A way forward in finding solutions with the education crisis in South Africa lies in collaboration, support and investment in early childhood development. There is no denying the value of introducing education for sustainability in early childhood development. Sustainable Development Goals promote the attainment of life skills and knowledge needed to promote sustainability through education. I have used these goals as the international framework for my study. Moreover, three factors will drive the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals: people (the individual and communities that promote sustainable lifestyles), the environment (urban and rural and connection to nature) and method of learning (how it speaks to the nature of a child and his/her capabilities).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die 21ste eeu word, veral in die globale suide, gekenmerk deur talryke uitdagings wat omgewingsagteruitgang, hulpbronuitputting, besoedeling, armoede, ongelykheid en onvoldoende opvoedingkundige uitkomstes insluit. Hierdie studie ondersoek ‘n onderrigraamwerk wat poog om opleiding verbonde aan ontwikkeling in die vroeë kinderjare te integreer met die beginsels van volhoubare ontwikkeling. Alhoewel die voorgenoemde onderrigraamwerk teoreties gekonstrueer kan word, is daar gepoog om te verken hoe die denkwyses verbonde aan volhoubare ontwikkeling ontvou in die praktiese sfeer van die vroeë onderrigmilieu. Navorsing is gedoen deur middel van ‘n literatuurstudie asook ‘n praktiese navorsingsondersoek by twee onderskeie vroeë onderrigsentrums in Kaapstad (naamlik Lynedoch Children’s House en GROW with Reaching Stars in Khayelitsha). Hierdie studie het ‘n kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering aangewend deur die gebruik van etnografiese deelnemerwaarneming, ‘n literatuurstudie en gevallestudies. Die data is ontleed deur die gebruik van kwalitatiewe inhoudsanalise. Die literatuurstudie het gedui op die voordele van ‘n vroegtydige begin in die aanwakkering van die waardes van volhoubare ontwikkeling by kinders. Hierdie voordele staan in lyn met die grondliggende beginsels van volhoubare ontwikkeling wat die onmisbare verbintenis tussen sosiale en ekonomiese ontwikkeling geheg aan omgewingsbewaring en sorg erken. Verder het die literatuur aangedui dat kinders met ‘n verbintenis tot die omgewing ‘n lewenslange geneigdheid mag hê tot sorgsaamheid teenoor die omgewing, dat hulle oor die vermoë beskik om agente van verandering te wees en dat hulle kwessies verbonde aan ongelykheid verstaan. Alhoewel dit uitdagend mag blyk om op die vlak van ontwikkeling in die vroeë kinderjare kinders bloot te stel aan die begrippe van volhoubare ontwikkeling, wys die navorsing dat kinders in staat is daartoe om komplekse kwessies te ondersoek en te verstaan. Deurlopende temas in die literatuur wat nagegaan is, sluit in kwaliteit onderrig, onderrig in konteks en opvoeding vir volhoubare ontwikkeling. Deur die gebruik van die deelnemerwaarnemings-navorsingsmetode is twee gevallestudies onderskeidelik in Lynedoch en Khayelitsha waargeneem. Die gevallestudies is gekies vir ‘n verkennende studie van twee verskillende kontekste van onderrig wat verskillende perspektiewe bied op onderrig verbonde aan volhoubaarheid. Die skool in Khayalitsha gebruik ‘n metode wat grootliks fokus op die kognitiewe ontwikkeling van ‘n kind en wat ‘n dominante metode in die Suid-Afrikaanse vroeë onderrigmilieu is. Lynedoch Children’s House gebruik die Montessori Metode van onderwys, een van die metodes wat die beginsels van volhoubare ontwikkeling beliggaam. Die metode erken dat die omgewings waaraan kinders blootgestel word positiewe of negatiewe faktore bevat vat verreikende gevolge het op hul toekoms. Om die baan waarin ons onsself bevind te verander is daar ‘n behoefte aan her-opvoeding. Mense benodig opvoeding wat ons help om beter mense te word wat sorg vir mekaar, ander lewende dinge, die omgewing en ons help om die doelstellings van die mensdom te realiseer. Bevindinge van beide die gevallestudies dui op die belangrikheid van vroeë onderrig wat die volgende tot gevolg het: die holistiese ontwikkeling van die kind, ‘n verbintenis met die natuur, kind-gesentreerdheid en ‘n verbintenis met ander mense en ander vorme van lewe. Onderrig in konteks is geïdentifiseer as een van die sleutelfaktore wat ‘n dryfveer is vir kwaliteit onderrig en Opvoeding vir Volhoubaarheid. Dit is noodsaaklik dat plaaslike oplossings vir globale probleme gevind word. Die vind van oplossings tot die opvoedingskrisis in Suid-Afrika, lê in samewerking, bystand en investering in ontwikkeling in die vroeë kinderjare. Die waarde van die bekendstelling van Opvoeding vir Volhoubaarheid tot ontwikkeling in die vroeë kinderjare kan nie ontken word nie. Die Volhoubare Ontwikkelingsdoelstellings promoveer die aanleer van lewensvaardighede en kennis wat benodig word om volhoubare ontwikkeling deur opvoeding te bevorder. Hierdie doelstellings dien as die internasionale raamwerk vir die studie. Drie sleutelfaktore sal dien as die dryfvere vir die suksesvolle toepassing van die Volhoubare Ontwikkelingsdoelstellings: mense (die individue en gemeenskappe wat volhoubare lewenshoudings bevorder), die omgewing (die stedelike en landelike omgewing en verbintenis tot die natuur) en onderrigmetodiek (hoe dit spreek tot die vermoëns en aard van die kind).

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