Grant holder
Dr Trevor Moodley, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Project status
In Progress

This research project is exploring how the Froebelian approach can be used practically in implementing the South African government’s early childhood curriculum.

The aim of this project is "to support progress towards enabling equity of learning opportunities for young children and those who care for and teach them" in South Africa.

The project is supporting an emerging Froebel Network in South Africa; a community of Froebelian learners seeking to develop and interpret Froebelian practice for early childhood education. The core research team from the University of Western Cape all completed a Froebel Online Course in 2021 and this research project will allow the team to "revisit, consolidate, reinforce and embed" learning from the course.

"We view this research as contributing to decolonising and transforming early education - as the research will include exploring synergies in holistic thinking of African indigenous philosophical understandings and Froebelian understandings."
Professor Trevor Moodley, project lead at University of the Western Cape

The project involves a multimodal research process - to include:

  • interviews
  • reflections
  • voice-recordings
  • visual documenting
  • two workshops.

The project will also involve teachers based at Peak Child Preschools and TREE in KwaZulu Natal.

"We will conduct interviews with one another (the research team and willing participants) about individual insights from the Froebel Online Course, and about participants' experiences with online learning. We will consider in particular: Froebelian pedagogy and African understandings of childhood."
Professor Trevor Moodley, project lead at University of the Western Cape

"The research will play a role in nourishing the roots of our fledgeling community of Froebelian practice."
Professor Trevor Moodley, project lead at University of the Western Cape

"We are now all committed to finding ways of achieving impact of the training and giving the network practical ways forward which they can articulate and disseminate in ways fit for purpose in South Africa. South African educators are tasked to engage in transforming and decolonising education. One of the greatest challenges we have is the way western education swept aside indigenous ideas and practices. The Froebelian course ‘spoke to ‘ participants of holistic educational principles which chime with the African philosophy of Ubuntu with value for holism, mutuality, reciprocity, compassion, respect and interconnectedness in the interests of a just and caring society for all."
Professor Trevor Moodley, project lead at University of the Western Cape

A final research report and a downloadable leaflet summarising implications for practice will be published here in Summer 2023. The research team hope to have this leaflet translated into ten official South African languages.

About the research team

The core research team are: Dr Lucinda Du Plooy , Professor Trevor Moodley, Professor Carole Bloch, Dr Frederick Sylvester, Ms Molepetsane Naketsana. All are involved in Education and /or Educational Psychology at the University of the Western Cape - apart from Molepetsane Naketsana, who is a lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Project lead, Trevor Moodley, is an Associate Professor and previous Head of Department in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He is a registered educational psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). He has a PhD in child psychology, as well as MEd (Ed Psych), BEd (Ed Psych), BSc, BPhil and HDE. Professor Moodley has worked in education for over 30 years both at school and at university levels. His research interests are in early childhood education, inclusive education and factors influencing teaching and learning.