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South African Journal of Childhood Education

On-line version ISSN 2223-7682
Print version ISSN 2223-7674


KNAFO, Tilana; SMIT, Brigitte  and  MARAIS, Petro. The disempowerment of early childhood practitioners in impoverished and marginalised communities. SAJCE [online]. 2019, vol.9, n.1, pp.1-11. ISSN 2223-7682.

BACKGROUND: Quality early childhood programmes have proven to be highly cost-effective in reversing the detrimental consequences of poverty on children's development. However, these programmes can only influence developmental outcomes of poor children if their needs are considered AIM: The purpose of this article was to inquire into the experiences of two early childhood development (ECD) practitioners working and living in impoverished and marginalised predominantly white communities where the involvement of volunteers from charity organisations was prominent. The researchers argued that the practitioners' experiences regarding their work should inform the kind of complementary volunteer aid and support sought for SETTING: The research sites were two informal predominantly white settlements where unemployed residents lived in makeshift housing METHODS: A narrative inquiry, nested in the social constructivist paradigm, was employed to explore the experiences of two practitioners. Data were collected from narrative interviews, observations, documents, photographs and artefacts RESULTS: Both participants knew well that the needs of the children in their care differed significantly from those of their more affluent peers and believed that training would equip them better for their task. Although both centres (and communities) benefitted from volunteer support, this well-intended aid was often misguided as the volunteers were not qualified educators and did not understand the context CONCLUSION: The volunteers did not empower the practitioners to use their insight and experience to deliver a quality programme fit for context. Instead, they left the practitioners with a sense of disempowerment by dictating the programmes and practices to be followed in the respective ECD centres, even though they were not qualified to do so

Keywords : early childhood development practitioners; impoverished and marginalised communities; informal settlements; narrative inquiry; volunteer support.

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