Transition of children from preschool and home contexts to Grade 1 in two township primary schools in South Africa

13 May 2014

In South Africa, the development of the 2001 White Paper No. 5 on Early Childhood Development (ECD) has been an instrumental policy in the development of changes to assist in preparing children for formal schooling, along with a strong focus on early childhood education. However the extent to which these are being enacted is relatively unknown. This study investigated understandings and practices of stakeholders involved in the transition of children moving from preschool or home into primary school in South Africa. A case study approach was adopted focusing on two schools situated in economically disadvantaged provinces of South Africa. School principals and teachers were interviewed to determine their knowledge of, and relationships with preschools, and practices around school transition. Grade 1 teachers were also asked about the factors influencing children’s transition to school. Parents were asked about their views of transition and how their children were supported as they started school. Taking note of the children’s own voices was imperative in determining how they experienced transition to school. While case study findings cannot be generalised, the results suggest that much needs to be done to increase awareness of early childhood education and for the government to move beyond universal accessibility to ensuring the quality of provision at the local level.