The Physical Environment of an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centre: Infrastructure (Classroom Environment) As A “Third Teacher” For ECE Provision
Quality Early Childhood Education (QECE) becoming a major issue and a focus of discussion at all levels of government and among practitioners, is partly because it has a direct bearing on the individual’s future education and general life. Paramount to the provision of QECE is the kind of infrastructure (classroom environment) in which it is provided, since it can either promote or retard the development of the individual. In spite of what literature has said about the relevance of the classroom environment and the fact that it can serve as the “Third teacher” in ECE provision, available data shows a lack of infrastructure in most ECE centres in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana. Using the convergent design (previously referred to as concurrent triangulation) mixed methods approach, data in the form of questionnaire, interview and observation were collected from 142 participants comprising 4 ECE circuit supervisors, and 130 teachers and 4 headteachers drawn form 10 schools within the Ga West Municipality in Greater Accra region of Ghana. After analysing the data, the findings showed some general infrastructural problems in the form of inappropriate furniture, unresourced learning centres and overcrowding classroom space. This possibly limited the ability of some of the teachers to translate their training into classroom practice. It also hindered the role the infrastructure could play as a third teacher and how the children could benefit from their classroom environment to aid their learning. Owing to these findings, it is recommended that provision should be made to improve on the infrastructure to make it more developmentally appropriate. Additionally, the ECE classroom environment should be carefully arranged to create space to allow for children’s free movement. Tables and chairs used by learners should also be sized to their height and in an appropriate shape (e.g. semi-circle) for their activities and the learning centres should be well resourced and used.
Index Terms - Infrastructure, Classroom Environment, Developmentally Appropriate, Third Teacher