Understanding Barriers and Potential of Early Childhood Education in Low-Income South Africa: Leveraging Children's Executive Functions

This project aims to enhance understanding of the link between executive function and self-regulation in children aged 3-5 years in South Africa.
Project status

The preschool years present a critical window of opportunity to maximise early childhood development and set young children on their best educational trajectory for human capital outcomes later in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. A key preschool cognitive predictor of educational outcomes (e.g. foundational numerical skills) is executive function. Recent research has shown better than expected executive function in low-income South African preschoolers, an index of potential that is not yet harnessed. Numeracy is of concern in South Africa, because it provides the foundations to later employability, but is poorly understood. This project intends to address this research gap, by determinining longitudinal associations between executive function and self-regulation at 3-4 years and numeracy skills at 4-5 years. It seeks to engage highly vulnerable very low-income children and families who do not currently access early childhood development centres, to understand barriers and potential, and maximise good educational outcomes.

Research Team: Professor Gaia Scerif, University of Oxford; Dr Catherine Draper, University of the Witwatersrand; Dr Steven James Howard, University of Wollongong

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