Cape Town - The Basic Education Department is engaging the National Treasury to seek additional funding for early childhood development (ECD) centres, Minister Angie Motshekga said.
“National Treasury has committed that they have included ECD as a top priority in subsequent years. The department will be working very closely with the National Treasury in the 2022/23 financial year to build a business case for additional funding,” Motshekga said.
She made the comment when she was responding in writing to parliamentary questions from DA MP Desiree van der Walt, who asked whether her department intended to put more emphasis on registering the centres that were currently unregistered.
Van der Walt also enquired whether Motshekga had found that the transfer of the ECD centres from the Social Development Department was going to result in more resources needed when they are run by her department from April.
In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the transfer of the ECD centres from social development to education, saying there would be two years of compulsory early childhood development for all children before they entered Grade 1.
Ramaphosa signed the proclamation of the transfer of administration, powers and functions of the EDC centres to the education department last year.
According to Motshekga, the government handbook clearly stipulated when a function was shifted from one department to the other, resources followed the function.
“That means that all resources (human, financial and capital) that are connected to a function, need to be transferred from the relinquishing department to the receiving department.
“As guided by the Department of Public Service and Administration and the National Treasury, the DBE and DSD have followed this principle closely.”
She also said the financial year following the function shift, the same resources that have been devoted to ECD centres by the Department of Social Development would be devoted to centres in her department.
Motshekga added that no additional budget was allocated to the ECD function shift during the 2021/22 financial year because the transfer was an administrative process.
Budget documents from the National Treasury say an average of R1.2 billion will be shifted from the Department of Social Development to the Basic Education Department over the medium-term expenditure framework period.
“In 2022-23, R1.1 billion is allocated for ECD subsidies to provide for and increase the number of children accessing subsidised ECD services, and R97.9 million is allocated for maintenance improvements to support ECD providers and to pilot the construction of new, low-cost ECD centres,” reads the 2022 estimates of national expenditure document.