Cape Town - Education MEC David Maynier has blamed a lack of updated bank details for the delay in payment to 104 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres across the province.
Maynier also confirmed that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) had completed the migration of ECD centres from the provincial Department of Social Development after the responsibility was transferred in April this year.
The WCED is now responsible for supporting, subsidising, and regulating the programmes according to specifications of the Children’s Act.
Maynier was answering written questions from provincial ANC education spokesperson Khalid Sayed, who had asked whether the process was completed. He also asked if there had been any delays in paying the ECD subsidies to schools or in the registration of ECDs in the province.
“Some ECD centres did not respond to our numerous requests for updated bank details. In these cases, no payments were made, as the centres did not provide their bank details. We are following up continuously with non-compliant centres,” Maynier said.
In January the WCED had asked 819 ECD institutions for new bank entity forms, completed and signed by the person who had authority to do so; and a bank confirmation letter from the banking institution.
Only 715 ECD centres returned the required documentation and were successfully migrated to the WCED. Maynier said that without the required documentation, the department was unable to make the payments.
DA provincial spokesperson on education Deidré Baartman said: “We would like to echo the sentiments of the WCED and implore the outstanding institutions to confirm their correct details so that they can receive the funding they need.”
Meanwhile, the WCED briefed the education standing committee on the successes of, and challenges facing, the ECD sector. The department said it recognised that the sector had been under-funded, and would therefore be carrying out a baseline assessment this year to better understand how it could increase support to the sector.
The committee heard that since the majority of ECD programmes were owned by non-governmental organisations, communities and private institutions rather than the Department of Social Development, they would not be affected by the shift.
Committee member Ferlon Christians (ACDP) said: “When it comes to the registered and unregistered centres, what is the department doing to make sure that everybody is registered?”
WCED Early Childhood director Ruth Leukes said that while the unregistered ECD centres outweighed the registered ones, the department was helping them to get registered. She said the department was aware of the complexities around the registration process in the ECD sector.
“We employed social sector organisations to walk alongside the ECDs that needed guidance. It isn't just about us making registration available. It is guiding them because it is quite a rigorous process.”