SARAECE Northern Region Conference Report

The Department of Early Childhood Education (DECE) at the University of South Africa together with SARAECE Northern Region  co-hosted the Seventh International Leadership Research Forum in Early Childhood (ILRF EC) conference from the 25th to 27th  September 2019 at Manhattan Hotel Pretoria. The Theme of the conference was ‘Leadership in Early Childhood Education: A Global Perspective’.  The main aim of the International Leadership Research Forum in Early Childhood Education (ILRF – ECE) is to provide a learning space to bring together those interested in early childhood leadership research from around the world. The conference covered variety of topics related to ECE leadership including sharing of the vision and mission of South African Research Association in Early Childhood Education and emphasising its purpose. The conference purpose was to share good practices and present the results of the researches conducted.

 The conference was attended by approximately 75 delegates, Gauteng Department of Basic Education ( Provincial Officials and National Official), Early Childhood practitioners and Managers from local community ECE sites, Academics from Kwa Zulu Natal University, University of South Africa, University of Helsinki, University of Tampere from Finland, Tshwane University of Technology, Gauteng ECD District Officials, University of Bergen- Norway, Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education, University of Oulu, Finland. Aga Khan University, University of South-Eastern Norway. University of Eastern Finland.

The conference was scheduled for three days. Conference, delegates were taken on a tour to visit the local ECE sites (25/09/2019). In the evening, an official welcome was done by Professor NC Phatudi the Department of Early Childhood Education Chair. Delegates were given opportunity to share the highlights of the ECE sites visits and to network.   Some of the highlights were:

  • Disparity in the availability of resources between the city ECE and Rural sites.
  • Differences in the buildings and space.
  • Staff components and Salaries at each centre
  • Child teacher ratio in each ECE site

The Acting UNISA College of Education Dean- Prof. PM Sebate officially opened the conference on the second day (26/09/2019). The audio link below provides the content of the well-presented speech. In his speech, he thanked the ECE department for the hard work they have put in Organising the conference, the purpose of the conference, the Unisa ODEL model amongst other things. Please open the audio link below to listen to his presentation.

Professor NC Phatudi (SARAECE treasurer and Chair of Unisa Department of Early Childhood Education) made a presentation on what SARAECE does amongst other presentations by conference delegates.  She alluded to the Vision and Mission of SARAECE, the core functions of the association, the reasons why the association was established and what the future hold for the association.  Embedded is the Power Point slides of her presentation.

On the third day of the conference Ms. Marie Louis Samuels, the Director of Early Child Education in the Department of Basic Education made an address on the topic: Leadership in ECD: South African Context.

She gave a brief background on ECE in South Africa- the basic education Sector and ECE in South Africa from 2002 until 2017. The key points addressed were Context, Change and Collaboration. She emphasised the importance of understating the context under which you are operating, changes that are taking place within the field you are operating and she touched on elements of collaboration like Support, Inspiration, trust, teamwork, success, share, assist and exchange. She also highlighted issues to be considered when establishing collaboration like Common vision, Adequate resources, Human, Finance, Commitment, competence, Compromise etc.  Embedded hereunder in is the presentation. 


Ms Hlabela  the founder,  owner and principal of three ECE community centres made a presentation on “ My Journey in the ECE Sector’. Ms Hlabela took SARAECE membership and invited the committee to come and make a presentation to their forum in order to grow SARECE membership. Dr MR ( Tshidi) Modise  obliged to the opportunity and went to adress a forum of 40 ECE principals on the Vission and Mission of SARAECE with the sole purpose of growing the association after the conference. Thirty five (35) registration forms were issued to the forum members who pleged their membership. The Future of SARAECE looks enabling, and this will also be an advantage for the Association and will open doors and opportunities for research in their area.


The following activities were sponsored through SARAECE contributions:

  • Children were sponsored to perform at the conference. ( 2 groups)
  • Conference Stationary was paid from the contribution


  • Great variety of presentations by conference delegates
  • Good comments and questions from the floor
  • Successful visits to the ECE sites
  • Zamubuhle ECE learners  – their ternacity and talent displayed their creativity.
  • Ms Hlabela – has determination, not detered by the environment or the needs , made the best of what life throws at her. As a leaders she has a vison and determination where she wants to be.
  • Net-working opportunity
  • Local and International sharing of good practices
  • Positive spirit that prevailed
  • Great Attendance

It is high time that ECE statkeholders in South Africa start to engage in converstaions around ECE leadership and coduct research to improve the quality of leadership in ECE centeres.