WITH just days to go before the Department of Basic Education officially takes over the function of Early Childhood Development centres, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has outlined the province's plans to shine a spotlight on ECD centres.
Speaking on Thursday at the Durban ICC, Zikalala said challenging socio-economic conditions deprived most South African children of their fundamental right to early education.
“In our country which is compounded by poverty, unemployment and inequality there is no doubt that investment in equality of ECD programmes for young children has a significant effect towards reducing poverty and inequality. Since the dawn of democracy, our country has made great strides in realising the right to education. We made education an apex priority ensuring that we invest in building an efficient, accessible and quality education system for children,” Zikalala said.
He further stated that they are not taking away opportunities from the existing ECD practitioners, and gave assurance that the current ECD practitioners that were supported by Social Development will be moved to the Department of Basic Education.
“The current existing ECD practitioners will continue to operate but ... they must be trained so that they can be linked with basic education. The transition is not about shutting down the existing ECD centres but to align ECD and basic education for a better future for our children,” he said.
Zikalala pleaded to the current ECD practitioners to make themselves available for learning in the current transition in order to prepare children for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We will continue to work closely with the labour to address concerns of workers, to ensure that the change is better managed. You will remember that the promotion of early learning culminated in the ECD 2030 version as reflected in the National Development Plan, which moves from child protection and child care to emphasise the quality of any learning focus.
“The Department of Basic Education will seek to ensure access of all children to efficient services, quality play but also quality learning,” he said.