Children receive instructions during an ECD playgroup programme. Picture: Supplied
Children receive instructions during an ECD playgroup programme. Picture: Supplied

Campaign seeks support for legal changes to extend reach of ECD programmes

By Mwangi Githathu Time of article published Oct 28, 2020

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Cape Town - A campaign for real reform of the early childhood development (ECD) programme has been launched to “ensure that reform of the legal framework for ECD is taken seriously”.

The campaign is backed by more than 50 NGOs, ECD providers and practitioners. Campaign spokesperson Clayton Morar said: “The campaign has been launched because legislative amendments being proposed in Parliament are a missed opportunity to improve the lives of millions of children.

“The majority of children in South Africa do not have access to quality childhood development services. Currently, 3.2million children are not accessing any ECD programmes,” said Morar.

“Of those who do access some form of ECD programme, 2.9million children are in unregistered programmes and only 800654 children in registered centres. Only 626574, or 25% of the children who need it are obtaining subsidised learning. This is a recipe for disaster when more than six out of 10 children face extreme poverty. Worse still, the effects of extreme poverty on children will have lifelong consequences.”

The group is pushing for five main reforms, including a push for a one-step registration process for ECD providers.

Morar said: “Different types of ECD programme providers, including playgroups, toy libraries and home-based care must be regulated differently. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate.

“We also want simpler, adequate health, safety and programme standards in place, and for it to be made clear that ECD providers can get conditional registration if they can’t meet all the registration requirements.

“We are calling on practitioners, parents and caregivers to support the campaign for real reform for ECD and to make a submission to Parliament before November 27.”

Last week, Premier Alan Winde said ECD access was an important priority.

“We will be convening a special consultative forum with key stakeholders doing amazing work in this space, to plot a common way forward to ensure that ECD (centres) are treated like a critical service, and their work can be expanded to reach many more children,” said Winde.

Subsequently, DA provincial spokesperson on social development Gillion Bosman wrote to Winde to request details of the forum.

Bosman also said the province had to give details of the rand value of the additional personal protective equipment it planned to distribute to ECDs.

Bosman said: “It is concerning that while just over 2600 ECDs have reopened in the province, 1255 need additional support to safely do so.”

Cape Argus

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