Prospects and possibilities of accreditation standards as quality measure of early childhood education in Botswana
Mswela, Naledi Binnie
PublisherUniversity of Botswana, www.ub.bw
MetadataShow full item record
Despite many efforts targeted at bringing quality in the provision of Early Childhood Education (ECE) globally, Botswana still lags behind. In order to regulate and monitor ECE programs to ensure quality standards are upheld, this study aims to recommend accreditation as a quality measure to improve ECE services in Botswana. Accreditation is the mark of excellence awarded to a program by an independent third party, proving that the program meets certain criteria and satisfies requirements. This means that during accreditation programs would be presented with a certificate of approval to show that they have fulfilled the requirements and are thus qualifying; whereas those that would not have fulfilled the requirements would be denied the certificate of approval, resulting in programs either closing or improving the standards depending on the outcome of accreditation assessment. This study aims to use the Minimal Accreditation Model (MAM), which is a model that fulfils the minimal standards for setting up an ECE program. Since Botswana ECE has not been accredited before, this model, which will initially be seeking only the basics from the service providers, will be the appropriate way to kick-start the accreditation process. The minimal model requires a minimum set of accreditation standards to be followed, such as having a formal authorizing body, having specified goals regarding to what each program intends to achieve and using quantitative indicators such as teacher-pupil ratio, adequate space with regards to teaching rooms, computers rooms and the library. Since, the Minimal Accreditation Model (MAM) requires service providers to adhere to the approved standards to ensure that quality provision is provided for children enrolled in the ECE programs, this study explored perceptions of ECE teachers in the South East Region of Botswana (Gaborone) regarding aspects necessary to be included in the model, recommendations that can be made to the authorities in Botswana regarding accreditation and whether participants attach any importance to having accreditation standards to monitor the provision of ECE in Botswana. The study employed a mixed-method research design, i.e. the qualitative and quantitative approaches. Since the study was interested in the views and perceptions of teachers in ECE, it was important to use the qualitative approach, and this was done by means of interviews. There were 13 interviews conducted and data was analysed using NVivo 12 qualitative data analysis tool. Data was also collected through a survey questionnaire. 89 questionnaires from 58 ECE programs in South East District were used in the study. The ECE programs were divided into four categories: privately owned programs, government owned, church owned as well as institution owned. The rationale for using a survey was to cover a large sample of data in a manageable time frame. Data was analysed through Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Data was further refined by Factor Analysis (FA), both descriptive and inferential statistics (Chi-Square) were used to interpret the data. The rationale for the triangulation of the analytic techniques was to bring out certain aspects from each tool. In the PCA analysis, the study sought to bring out inferential statistics, how factors were associated, and through FA the most preferred aspects to be included in MAM were made evident. In the qualitative approach data was analysed using NVivo 12. A summary of all transcripts was compiled in which sub-themes were compared to come up with the overall themes that were later used to report the findings of the study. The findings of the study indicate that participants from all the categories of ECE agreed that aspects most crucial to be included in the Minimal Accreditation Model are ensuring safety measures for children, mission and vision policies and establishing strong parental involvement and partnership through Parents Teachers Associations (PTA). Other factors considered essential were the quality of teacher training and monitoring and evaluation of teachers’ performance. The study recommends that these aspects be included in the model to suit the Botswana context. In conclusion some recommendations were made on how accreditation procedures could be improved which will in turn improve quality provision of ECE program in the country. The lessons learnt from this study are that teachers in Botswana are knowledgeable about ECE. ECE has advanced significantly in the past years especially in the privately owned programs as the majority of these programs are run by foreign nationals with solid background and qualifications in ECE. Furthermore, there are adequate resources, facilities and trained teachers in the privately owned programs. Furthermore, the government and church owned programs have limited resources and unqualified teachers, and this impacts negatively on the quality of the provision. There is need to improve on facilities/materials as well as the training of teachers in these settings in order to provide better services for young learners, because quality ECE is essential for the holistic development of children. As it is, there is need for an accreditation model that can assist in the regulation as well as the monitoring of the ECE provision in Botswana.
- PhD Theses (FoB)