Learning (contexts) environments of young children in Zambia: daily experiences, quality of care and developmental outcomes in day care centres in Lusaka.

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Liboma, Inonge
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The University of Zambia
Investment in early childhood development has in the recent past increased due to the 250 million under-five children in low- and middle-income countries at risk of not reaching their developmental potential. Thus, investigating the quantity of care in more challenging, developing world context like Zambia is imperative. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between ECE daily experiences, quality of care and developmental outcomes of pre-schoolers enrolled in pre-school centres. The specific objectives include; to explore the ECE daily experiences of pre-schoolers in pre-school centres, to assess the ECE quality of care in the pre-schools and to compare whether pre-schooler’s developmental outcomes differ on the basis of attending a high or low quality pre-school centres. The study also examined the difference that may exist in developmental outcomes of children enrolled in adequate, average, and inadequate care pre-schools. A total number of six preschools and 53 pre-schoolers participated in the study. Using the ZamCAT, structured questionnaire and observations, qualitative and quantitative data was collected. The results indicate that pre-schools that service children from the majority poor are offering inadequate quality care to the children. The results also indicated that there is a significant difference in the receptive language development of children from the inadequate, average, and adequate pre-schools with F (2, 50) = 6, 92, P=.002 according to the ANOVA test analysis. Another significant difference observed in the development of children among the three types of pre-school quality care was the difference in the letter naming exercise. ANOVA test analysis indicated a significant difference of F (2, 50) = 6, 92, P =.019. This study did not record any gender or age differences in the developmental outcomes of children after a t-test analysis was conducted. The daily experiences of children assessed include daily routines such as learning time, play time, eating time, and safety of children. To assess quality, teacher qualifications, salary, child-teacher ratio, and teaching aids where considered. The results indicate that adequate preschools pay their teachers a good amount of money than average and inadequate preschools and have good child-teacher ratio. The qualifications of teachers in the three preschool categories are not quite different but the environment and teaching materials are way better in adequate care preschools than in average and inadequate care preschools. I therefore conclude from this study that pre-schools servicing children from middle and low social economic status families assessed offer low quality care and that depending on the inadequacy faced by the school, children may either delay in acquiring some or all the skills needed to develop fully. I recommend that preschool administrators and the government should put in place deliberate policies to promote quality care in preschools because access to ECE without quality care will still produce citizens who may fail to develop full potential and contribute fully to our nation.
Thesis of Master of Child and Adolescent Psychology.