ECD campaign lobbies against proposed Children’s amendment bill

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Oct 29, 2020

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Early learning advocacy group Real Reform for Early Childhood Development (ECD) campaign is lobbying against the proposed Children’s Amendment Bill saying it is missing the opportunity to improve the sector.

The proposed bill published on August 26, seeks to add amendments to the Children's Act, 2005. It is up for public comment.

The bill states that only registered children ECD programmes that comply with the Department of Social Service, Department of Health and Department of Education’s national norms and standards.

The registration or renewal of registration process can take up to six months. Should the ECD centre not comply with the set criteria then the registration application can be rejected.

According to the advocacy group, the laws and rules governing early childhood development services are overly complicated, onerous and restrictive and many early childhood development programmes cannot get registered or funded. The organisation said the red tape affected programmes in poor communities the most.

“Majority of children in South Africa do not have access to quality childhood development services. Currently, 3.2 million 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 800 654 children in registered centres. Only 626 574 (25%) of the children who need it are obtaining subsidised learning.

“This is a recipe for disaster when more than 6 out of 10 children face extreme poverty. Worse still, the effects of extreme poverty on children will have life-long consequences,” Real Reform for ECD campaign.

Some of the issues raised are that the bill:

  • Registration process is onerous.
  • It has a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • The health and safety standards are streamlined and have not been reviewed.
  • Explicit ban on infrastructure funding support to partial care facilities run from private homes.

The campaigns said the bill does not solve the problems for early childhood development and in some ways, it can make things worse.

“We want to show Parliament, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Basic Education that the voices of parents, practitioners and ECD providers matters. That our experience of the rules and systems in place, matters. We will actively participate in the Parliamentary process pushing for the reforms we know the sector needs,” the campaign said in a statement.

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