Campaign to reform Early Childhood Development following ‘unhelpful’ bill

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Oct 29, 2020

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Cape Town - More than 50 NGOs, Early Childhood Development (ECD) providers and practitioners are supporting a new campaign calling for reform of the sector following the publishing of the Children’s Amendment Bill for public comment.

The Real Reform for ECD Campaign, supported by organisations including The Equality Collective, Ilifa Labantwana, Equal Education Law Centre and UCT’s Children’s Institute, says the bill does not solve problems for early childhood development and in some ways, can make things worse.

“Legislative amendments being proposed in Parliament are a missed opportunity to improve the lives of millions of children,” the group said in a statement.

According to the campaign, 3.2million children are not accessing any ECD programmes. Of those who do access some form of ECD programme, 2.9 million children are in unregistered programmes and only 800654 children in registered centres. Only 626574 (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,” they said. “Unfortunately, the bill does not solve the problems for early childhood development and in some ways, it can make things worse.”

The campaign is rallying behind five reforms, including a one-step registration process for ECD providers, and that needy children attending any type of ECD programme should be able to access the early learning subsidy.

They are also calling for simpler, adequate health, safety and programme standards to be in place; to be assessed through one process; that it be made clear that ECD providers can get conditional registration if they can’t meet all the registration requirement; and for the infrastructure needs of the sector to be supported.

“ECD providers, including on private land, should be able to receive support, and municipalities must be required to provide for and maintain sufficient and appropriate ECD infrastructure in their regions,” they said.

According to the bill, the amendments intends to “strengthen protective measure for children; address critical gaps and challenges in the underlying child care and protection system; identify strategies to address these challenges efficiently; and effectively contribute towards the comprehensive legal solution as ordered by the High Court in Pretoria, in the matter of the Centre for Child Law versus Minister of Social Development, to deal with the provision and administration of foster care”.

Overall cost of the bill is expected to be R32427 billion in 2020/21 increasing to R58353 billion in 2028/29.

Visit: https://www.ecdreform.org.za or WhatsApp 0720171682 to join.

Cape Times

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