Early childhood practitioners experience of the mathematical literacy curriculum in the context of the National certificate in early childhood development : a case study.
Since 2002, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has included mathematical literacy as a compulsory fundamental component for the Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC). This constituted a radical development in education and is intended to empower individuals so that they can function effectively in, and contribute to the democratization of the country. This exploratory study examined the mathematical literacy experiences of 12 Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners training toward the National Certificate in ECD at NQF L4. The study was conducted at a non-government, nonformal ECD training organization based in Durban. The practitioners were undertaking their training as part of a Learnership programme. A qualitative research methodology was employed. The data was gathered through focus group interviews, semi-structured interviews, and documentary analysis. The study revealed that the practitioners held a positive view of mathematical literacy training. In addition, it was found that such training should remain as part of the ECD qualification owing to the fact that it added value at both a personal and professional level. In interrogating the curriculum, practitioners recommended the inclusion of ECD examples, and engagement with how mathematical literacy is used in the different contexts. In terms of relevancy of content, practitioners recommended content areas that could be applied in their personal and professional lives. Mathematical literacy that related to national issues was seen as abstract, for example balance of payment in terms of the national budget. The study revealed that the background of the ECD practitioners need to be taken into account as some practitioners may not have studied mathematics before. This implies that providers will need to take into account the NQF Level 3 entry requirements and the expected embedded knowledge that practitioners are supposed to have prior to the registration of practitioners for the NQF L 4 certificate. In this regard, policy makers may also need to re-examine the issue of whether mathematical literacy is needed at the level of the qualification. Dialogue on these issues between SAQA and the different stakeholders may be necessary. Not surprisingly, the study revealed the need for suitably trained mathematical literacy facilitators given that this is a new programme. This study is by no means exhaustive, and is but a small sample of views that could be further explored in a more comprehensive study.