Early childhood development as a pathway to sustainable community development

Spies, Magdelien (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigated the possibilities of early childhood development (ECD) as pathway to sustainable community development by means of a literature survey and practical research. The main objectives were to determine the usefulness of integrated, ecological ECD as entry point to sustainable community development, to determine how this might be achieved and to reflect on the benefits and limitations of sustainable community development through ECD. A review of the literature emphasized the importance of ECD, as early childhood is foundational for the establishment of lifelong skills, knowledge, values and attitudes. The need to enhance capabilities for sustainable development from a young age is becoming increasingly urgent as the world braces itself for a future likely to be characterised by a ‘global polycrisis’ which includes climate change, resource depletion, poverty and food security. Integrated, ecological ECD exposes children to a worldview that acknowledges complexity and interdependence. This contributes to their ability to be agents of change that imagine and create alternative futures on community, national and global levels. Conceptualising ECD spaces as integrated ecological ‘hubs’ for sustainable community development is a way of enhancing community capabilities for sustainable development by facilitating synergies between various projects, promoting intergenerational learning and ensuring that children are central to all community development initiatives. The practical research focused on the Lynedoch Crèche as a working example of an integrated, ecological ECD ‘hub’ for sustainable community development. The purpose of this case study was to contribute to the attainment of the research objectives by balancing theory with the intricacies of praxis. The main findings of the case study pertain to the need to inform ECD by a deeply ecological and integrated worldview that places children at the centre of sustainable community development. The importance of deriving context-specific methodologies and solutions that stem from an intricate knowledge of the socio-ecological environment was emphasized. The research indicated that the core challenges to this approach relate to capacity, leadership, financial viability and institutional arrangements. The conclusions drawn from the literature survey and the practical research suggest a useful role for ECD as entry point for sustainable community development. I further conclude that there is no single conception of what an integrated, ecological hub for sustainable development might entail. Rather, these ‘hubs’ must be born from worldviews rooted in complexity and interdependence and an ecological educational paradigm that is inspired and informed by the local socio-ecological environment. The principle benefit to this approach relates to the fact that community capabilities for children-centred sustainable development are enhanced in concurrence with the high quality ecological education of its children. The greatest limitation of this approach is that its success hinges upon the capacity of teachers to fulfil multiple roles and provide leadership in largely unchartered territory.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het die moontlikheid ondersoek dat vroeë kinder ontwikkeling (VKO) as ingangspunt vir volhoubare gemeenskapsontwikkeling gebruik kan word. ‘n Literatuur-studie oor die onderwerp en praktiese navorsing by die Lynedoch kleuterskool is die kern van die studie. Die hoofdoel was om te bepaal of geïntegreerde en ekologies-georienteerde kleuterskoolonderrig sinvol kan bydra tot volhoubare gemeenskapsontwikkeling, om te bepaal hoe dit bereik kan word, en wat die voordele en nadele van so ‘n benadering is. Die literatuurstudie het die belangrikheid van VKO as die fondament vir die vaslê van lewenslange vaardighede, kennis, waardes en houdings bevestig. Dit word al hoe dringender om kinders van ‘n vroeë ouderdom af vir volhoubare ontwikkeling toe te rus sodat hulle leiding kan neem in ‘n toekoms wat waarskynlik gekenmerk gaan word deur meervuldige krisisse soos klimaatsverandering, oorbevolking, uitputting van natuurlike hulpbronne, armoede en voedselskaarste. ‘n Geïntegreerde en ekologiese benadering tot VKO stel kinders bloot aan ‘n wêreldsiening wat kompleksiteit en interafhanklikheid beklemtoon. Hierdie bewustheid help kinders om kreatief alternatiewe toekomsmoontlikhede raak te sien en te verwesenlik, tot voordeel van hul gemeenskap, land en wêreld. Kleuterskole kan geposisioneer word as een van die geïntegreerde spilpunte waarom gemeenskapsontwikkeling draai. Vaardighede vir volhoubare ontwikkeling word sodoende bevorder in beide kinders en gemeenskappe. Samewerking tussen verskeie projekte word aangemoedig, oud en jonk leer saam en kinders word ‘n sentrale fokus van alle gemeenskapsontwikkelingsinisiatiewe. Die praktiese navorsing is ‘n gevallestudie van die Lynedoch Kleuterskool. Hierdie kleuterskool is gekies as ‘n voorbeeld VKO wat poog om ‘n geïntegreerde, ekologiese benadering te volg en om ‘n rol te speel in volhoubare gemeenskapsontwikkeling. Die gevallestudie het die literatuurstudie aangevul deur moontlikhede en tekortkominge van ‘n praktiese toegepassing te demonstreer. Die bevindings bevestig die belangrikheid van ‘n ekologiese- en geïntegreerde benadering tot VKO, en hoe noodsaaklik dit is om te verseker dat kinders as die sleutel tot gemeenskapsontwikkelingsinisiatiewe gesien word. Kennis van die unieke sosio-ekologiese konteks behoort te lei tot die ontwerp van geskikte onderrig metodes. Die gevallestudie dui daarop dat ‘n tekort aan kapasiteit, onvoldoende leierskap, finansiële onselfstandigheid en swak organisasie dikwels van die grootste uitdagings is wat sukses belemmer. Die gevolgtrekkings van beide die literatuurstudie en navorsing is dat geïntegreerde en ekologiese VKO wel ‘n nuttige invalshoek kan wees vir volhoubare gemeenskapsontwikkeling. Dit blyk verder dat daar geen enkele universele model van geïntegreerde en ekologiese VKO is nie, en dat elke projek se leerinhoud en metodologie volgens eiesoortige konteks bepaal word. Wat wel belangrik is, is dat dié projekte gebou word op ekologiese wereldsieninge wat kompleksiteit en interafhanklikheid benadruk. Die hoof voordeel van hierdie benadering is dat gemeenskapskapasiteit vir volhoubare gemeenskapsontwikkeling bevorder word terwyl kinders hoë kwaliteit ekologiese opvoeding ontvang. Die belangrikste beperking hierin is dat sukses grootliks afhanklik is van goed toegeruste onderwysers wat verskeie rolle tegelyktydig kan vertolk, wat leierskap kan neem en wat alternatiewe maniere van doen kan demonstreer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6657
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