I was very fortunate enough to find 2 people willing to let me e-mail back and forth with them over the next few weeks. Today I'm going to talk about one of them, Penny.
Penny is a Montessori Directress in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has lived in South Africa all her life but as been running her school for 26 1/2 years. Her school is for children between the ages of 2 years old and 6 years old.
I asked her about teaching ratios and standards in South Africa along with how poverty has affected her town.
For ratios she said in her school they operate in an 8:1 child:adult ratio however the traditional schools in that area are 30:1 and the primary schools are 40:1 sometimes with a classroom assistant and unfortunately in the more disadvantaged areas the ratio is even higher.
For standards she said at the moment there are very few although Montessori society is trying to start inspections. The schools are controlled by the local health inspectors and have specific requirements regarding space per child and toilet facilities among others.
Poverty affects the children dramatically in her area, unfortunately a lot in education. Private school can be very expensive, which makes it impossible for many of them. The education department provides facilities for children who are 5 turning 6 years old but with limited spaces. Her center sponsors 2 children, so they only pay half of the fees.
I feel like in the US we put a much higher stake on ratios and standards then in South Africa. And poverty does impact us, but not to the point where we would say early childhood is impossible for many of our children. I think poverty looks differently, because for some people who can't afford early childhood schools for their children, instead they try to work at a center to decrease that expense but still provide a good education experience for their child.