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South African Research Association for Early Childhood Education (SARAECE)
October 01, 2011

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) field is currently disempowered by its fragmentation into smaller interest groups without a unified voice or vision. An inclusive association with a strong research base and focus was identified as a need to represent the field in a purposeful manner.

The first international Early Childhood Development conference took place from 1-3 February 2011, and was hosted by the subject group Foundation Phase, Faculty Education Sciences, North West University, Potchefstroom Campus. The intention of the conference was to bring people in the field of ECE together and to establish an association for research training and development.

A session was attended by Dr Green and Dr Parker of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). There was a general support for the establishment of such an association, and it was proposed that DHET call a workshop meeting to which a representative from each of the universities involved in teacher training would be invited.

A meeting was called by the DHET for 20 universities and 16 representatives from Education Faculties in South Africa attended the meeting on 11 May 2011 in Johannesburg. The idea to establish a research association for the ECE sector was again unanimously and strongly supported.

A proposal by a task team recommended the establishment of the South African Research Association for Early Childhood Education (SARAECE) for young children (0-9) in South Africa, of which our own Dr Ona Janse van Rensburg was appointed president. The association seeks to be a leading voice for ECE invested in improving the well-being, early education and developmental potential for all children birth through grade three.

The association would serve as a catalyst for research, programme and materials development. The association intends to provide a platform that supports knowledge creation in ECE and is committed to becoming an inclusive, collective and critical voice for the ECE field.

The key activities of the Association will include the following:

  • Research in the ECE field.
  • Collaboration between members and with both local and international bodies and individuals involved in SARAECE.
  • Advocacy of the specific intent and projects of the Association.
  • Informing practice through support and involvement of both pre- and in-service educators as well as staff of colleges and universities involved in the training and education of ECE practitioners and teachers.
  • Being responsible for implementing directives from its constituency such as the hosting of conferences and/ or initiating projects to advance its causes.

The members of the steering committee are:

  • Dr Ona Janse van Rensburg (President, NWU)
  • Prof Hasina Ebrahim (Vice President, UFS)
  • Dr Ursula Hoadley (CPUT)
  • Prof Jean Baxen (Rhodes)
  • Ms Lorayne Excell (Wits)
  • Ms Nici Rousseau (CPUT)
  • Ms Robin Notshulwana (Secretary, NMMU)
  • Dr Mamosebatho Ramabenyane (UFS)
  • Dr Mamsi Khuzwayo (UZ)
  • Dr Seenie Naidu (UNISA)
  • Dr T Mbatha (KZN)
  • Prof Elizabeth Henning (UJ: Editor SA Journal of Childhood Education)
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