Early childhood development centres uncertain over reopening
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Cape Town – Early childhood development centres (ECDs) remain in the dark about when they will be allowed to reopen.
While grades 7 and 12 learners are to return to school next week, ECDs have not been given the go-ahead to return to operation. National ECD Alliance (Necda) vice-chairperson Dr Monica Stach said ECD owners were feeling uncertain as the only communication they had received was that they had to stay closed.
“A recent survey confirms that ECDs are in dire straits as fees are not being paid and practitioners are therefore not receiving salaries. In many instances, ECD owners have not registered their employees for unemployment insurance fund (benefits), which makes the only available relief inaccessible," Stach said.
“Also, parents who were mandated to work during levels 5 and 4 of the lockdown had nowhere to send their children while at work, and had to make alternate arrangements
“The restrictions on movement have made it impossible for practitioners with the skills to care and to stimulate children’s early learning to offer their expertise to families. We are concerned about the well-being and safety of millions of children who live in less than ideal circumstances.”
Stach said consultations on reopening ECDs were under way and a task team had been assembled that would work on a number of workstreams relating to the reopening.
“Many ECD role-players have launched a range of initiatives to inspire and support parents during the lockdown. One such initiative is the Tshwaragano ka Bana posters that organisations such as the Necda are disseminating to our 103 member organisations, who in turn share them with parents.”
Spokesperson for the provincial Department of Social Development, Esther Lewis, said: “We encourage all ECD operators to monitor the provincial coronavirus website at coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za and national government’s website at sacoronavirus.co.za where all of the latest developments are posted, online parent support and learning material provided, as well as relief available to residents and businesses.”
There are 1 589 registered ECD facilities in the province, and the department funds more than 80 000 children at 1124 centres.