|dc.description.abstract||The study set out to examine factors affecting the provision of Early Childhood Education in government primary schools. The Case Study Design was used, applying both qualitative and quantitative methods. A sample of 70 respondents was selected from three (3) Early Childhood Education Centres in Kabompo district, with geographic locations of urban, peri-urban and rural/remote primary schools.
Data was collected using questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, observation schedules and ECE class check-lists. Qualitative data was analysed using themes by coding and grouping similar ideas and quantitative data was analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to generate graphs, charts and frequency tables.
Findings of the study revealed that there were gaps between the government policy on Early Childhood Education provision and implementation. The study established that there were no guidelines on how to institute ECE in government primary schools. ECE centres did not have documents indicating teaching time, teaching was done without curriculum, there were no trained teachers in ECE centres at the commencement of implementation but any primary teacher could volunteer to provide pre-schooling. The study also found that ECE provision was being done in inappropriate infrastructure which were designed for children above the age of six; in dilapidated classrooms, with toilets and play grounds located far from the ECE centres. Implementation of ECE began without supply of relevant teaching and learning materials; instead it was more of academic than play. Further, the study revealed that there was a challenge of long distances between schools and villages/ homes, resulting in minimal enrolment and rampant absenteeism in rural and remote centres. However, township centres experienced high enrolment rates, resulting in overcrowding in classrooms due to proximity to the ECE centres and also the ‘Free Education Policy’ which allowed enrolment of children without paying fees of any kind and attending school without uniforms.
In view of the research findings, it was recommended that appropriate infrastructure, teaching/learning materials and relevant equipment for play be provided in ECE Centres. Further, the government should establish more ECE centres closer to communities so that there is not only dependency on existing primary schools which are far apart. The government should highly fund ECE centres for better operations of the program; pre-schools, unlike conventional education, require a lot of things to use, and most of them involve monies to acquire them.||en_US