The Project for Inclusive Early Childhood Care & Education (PIECCE) is a multi-stakeholder, collaborative project that aims to increase access to qualifications for ECCE educators working in Birth to Four, thereby helping to professionalise the sector.

Its objective is to produce a standardised Programme Framework for ECCE qualifications at NQF Levels 6 and 7 to support common understandings of ECCE educator competences, and to align occupational and professional training routes.

A number of higher education institutions and NGO training providers are collaborating on this project. The core team consists of UNISA, Saide, BRIDGE, the Centre for Social Development at Rhodes, Ntataise, TREE and False Bay College. With support from DHET, the additional universities are University of Pretoria, Witwatersrand University, University of Fort Hare, University of the Free State, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Walter Sisulu University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and North West University. The project began in 2016 and will end in December 2019. More details can be found in the PIECCE brochure here. PIECCE is funded by the European Union and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Views on collaboration in PIECCE

“It is really refreshing to be part of a process through which the gap between high education and NGO’s narrows at every single meeting.”

“It is so useful to get new and different perspectives on our discipline from those outside our own institutional settings. This has expended our understandings of quality and common standards in ECCE teacher education.”

“Collaboration between different organisations is complex and time consuming. It has sometimes been difficult, but we have learned a lot about ourselves, our assumptions and our processes from the collaboration reflection sessions.”

What are the key drivers for Piecce


We aim to define quality to inform our thinking on all aspects of the programme development process.


We aim to infuse inclusive practices into every aspect of teaching and learning, preparing practitioners to be flexible and responsive to diversity.


A major innovation is that all project work will be done through a collaborative process with multi-sectoral partners (a first in the field), and we will provide additional platforms for broader engagement.


ECD can have a life-changing
influence on children receiving
essential services before
entering formal schooling.
Benefits to young children
unfold into positive effects on
the formal schooling system
itself, which in turn influences
social and economic
development. However, ECD’s
favourable impacts can only
be fully achieved through
quality provision.

At the centre of quality ECD is the practitioner. This in turn demands that we increase access
in order to produce professionally qualified ECD educators. Practitioners and teachers hold
the key to unlocking the potential of young children.
PIECCE sees professionalism as embracing the following:
• Foregrounding principles of inclusive education
• Emphasising the centrality and uniqueness of the learner
• Preparing a critically reflective workforce
• Fostering an understanding of contextual and situational realities.
In the interests of supporting professionalism, programme design will take the following into
• Alignment and qualification pathways for practitioners and teachers
• Design for access (e.g. flexible delivery, role of RPL, work integrated learning and academic


Output 1

A Collaboration Process Model for programme development



  • Establish core and wider consortium partnerships
  • Design a theory of change
  • Organise a range of platforms for sharing project findings
  • Convene Communities of Practice for stakeholder engagement
  • Share information with the field through project knowledge products
  • Determine and advocate approach to Open Education Resources (OERs)
  • Track processes against principles for collaboration to develop the Collaboration Model


A research review of fitness for purpose of a representative selection of existing ECD and related capacity building programmes



  • Agree on criteria for quality programmes in inclusive ECD (content, mode of delivery, language, access, programme design principles, progression etc.)
  • Develop research design and review instruments
  • Produce research report (including chronological and thematic literature
    review, a review of existing ECD and related programmes, a report of RPL, WIL and Academic Support models, and recommendations for new programmes and alignment)

Output 3

A Standardised Programme Framework and set of support materials.



  • Use feedback from review
  • Develop Standardised Programme Frameworks for the Diploma in ECCE at Level 6 and the B Ed in ECCE at Level 7
  • Refine delivery model
  • Refine Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) model
  • Refine Work Integrated Learning (WIL) model
  • Define functional academic development support modules
  • Compile recommendations for alignment with Level 4 and 5 ECD occupational qualifications
  • Design and develop support materials for Level 6 Diploma programme
  • Design a process for testing materials with teacher educators
  • Facilitate input, review and feedback on Programmes and materials

Additional Information

PIECCE is a collaboration led by UNISA, Saide, Centre for Social Development at Rhodes University and BRIDGE. The consulting partners on the project are TREE, Ntataise, and False Bay College. At the request of the Department of Higher Education (DHET), and with additional support from them, the consortium was extended to include a number of Higher Education Institutions, namely, Walter Sisulu University, University of Pretoria, University of Fort Hare, North West University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Free State, University of the Witwatersrand and University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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