Cape Town – Fed-up Early Childhood Development (ECD) employees took to the streets yesterday in a countrywide protest over delays in the payments of the sector’s stimulus relief fund, which is now more than a month overdue for many.
The National Department of Social Development (DSD) received R496 million from National Treasury as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Covid-19 relief measures to assist ECD programmes and services that had been impacted by the pandemic.
The protest yesterday was spearheaded by the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), which had been approached by many affected centres.
“The DSD failed to deliver on its promise to facilitate the funds and payout to ECDs by March 31, resulting in hundreds of ECDs buckling under the strain of Covid-19 and closing down,” CECD director, Professor Eric Atmore said
“To date, DSD has made little effort to communicate with the sector, but has noted that they have paid approximately 20% of the over 108 833 ECD workers expecting the money.
’’Payments that have been made thus far have been inconsistent and many ECD principals that have been paid report that they have received less than 50% of the amount owed.”
The DSD did not respond to several requests for comment by deadline.
Meanwhile, the provincial department of social development said of the 3159 applications received, only 794 had so far been verified by the national government.
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said: “The Provincial DSD is still waiting on the National Department of Social Development to send us the rest of the respective ECD applicants once they have been verified and approved.”
She added that non-payment was in some cases due to incorrect banking details.