Early childhood teachers’ and managers’ lived experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa

Keywords: Covid-19, South Africa, early childhood education, teachers, lived experiences, early childhood systems, equity


The declaration of the novel corona virus as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March 2020 brought many changes to the early childhood sector globally.  The South African response is best understood in the context of an under-developed sector with pre-existing vulnerabilities. The aim of this article is to gain a contextual understanding of the lived experiences of ECD teachers and managers in the lock down and the opening phases of a risk-adjusted approach. A phenomenological lens together with systems theory illuminates’ struggles, tensions and resilience. Data was produced through an online survey with 28 ECD teachers and semi-structured interviews with a subset of 8. Findings show that disruptions of Covid-19 led to entrenching inequities in service provision and early learning opportunities. These intersecting dimensions have implications for building effective ECD systems.