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Pre-schools face closure


THE introduction of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) A and B in primary schools is threatening the existence of pre-schools in the city.

Mahatshula Primary School Grade Zero pupils take a nap in class recently
Mahatshula Primary School Grade Zero pupils take a nap in class recently


The Primary and Secondary Education ministry initially introduced ECD A whereby five-year-olds are required to enrol for Grade Zero in primary schools before they could enter the formal schooling system.

The ministry has now come up with ECD B which requires four-year olds to enrol at primary school in preparation for Grade Zero.

The latter has hit at the heart of pre-schools which largely depended on this age group as parents prepared their children for formal schooling.

The mandatory ECD B has reduced pre-schools to mere child minders as parents were placing children under the age of four years who could not easily grasp concepts, at such centres.

In a snap survey done by Southern Eye yesterday, some pre-schools confirmed that business was now low compared to the past because children they mainly targeted were now enrolling at primary schools as per government directive.

Sikhathele Ncube, who runs a pre-school in Bulawayo, said running pre-schools was now a challenge as most parents preferred taking their children to schools in compliance with the government directive.

“Nowadays it is difficult for most people who are running pre-schools because we have lost our clientelle base which comprised children aged between four and five, because parents now take their kids to school as stipulated by the government directive that every child in the country should go through the ECD A and B process respectively,” Ncube said.

Most parents now opted to keep their children at home until they enrolled for ECD B at the age of four instead of taking them to pre-schools.

A teacher at a local crèche who declined to be named said business had been low since ECD B was introduced and they were now child minders for children who could not be taught much.

“The situation is hard in most places. We are now child minders because at the age of two, a child would not have fully developed to grasp concepts, so our role as pre-schools has been relegated to the periphery due to the new policy introduced by the government,” she said.

This has reduced the fees parents pay for their children as government primary schools charge between $20 and $35 dollars per term compared to an average of $400 a term or $140 per month charged by pre-schools.

In addition, pre-schools demand groceries such as cool drinks, brown sugar, tea bags, specifically Rooibos, rice, loose biscuits, beans, Fattis and Monis spaghetti and macaroni as well as toilet paper, among other groceries.

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