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Center-based early childhood care and education program quality: A South African study

We report on the first representative sample survey of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program quality to be conducted in South Africa (n = 242 ECCE centers). The Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale--Revised (ECERS-R) and Infant-Toddler Environmental Rating Scale--Revised (ITERS-R) were used to assess ECCE quality. A Center Management Quality measure based on South African center licensing requirements was constructed and administered to center supervisors. We found that classes for both younger and older children fall just above the 'minimal' quality level on both measures. Regression analyses were conducted to establish determinants of center quality. Predictors included: licensing and subsidy status, teacher information (age, highest qualification and years in ECCE), presence of a Reception Year class in the center, teacher-child ratio, weekly fees, management quality, center support and parent involvement. Outcome measures were ITERS-R and ECERS-R total scale scores. Fees charged and center management capacity were predicted the quality of the care and learning environment. The relationship between level of child deprivation in the community (as an indicator of child poverty) and ITERS-R and ECERS-R total scores was examined separately. A significant negative relationship was observed between program quality and the level of child deprivation in the area served by the center. Implications for improving center quality for disadvantaged children in South Africa are discussed. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers
South Africa

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