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Pretoria - South Africans needed to pay serious attention to Early Childhood Development (ECD) despite increase in the number of children who accessed ECD components, said Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke. 

He delivering the forth Education Series Volume focused on ECD in South Africa in Hatfield on Monday. The stats were based on the findings of the General Household Survey of 2016.

The most significant increase occurred in infant breastfeeding with 73% of children under the age of one were breastfed while also consuming other food. Moreover, 32% of these children were exclusively breastfed. 

Maluleke explained that his office did not have the mandate to allocate funds to address all the challenges it identified but hoped relevant departments and the masses to used the stats to engage constructively to influence policy.

He said malnutrition for very young children needed immediate attention, especially in the North West, Free State and KwaZulu Natal. This were provinces with the most underweight and stunted children.

“Government feeding programmes target mostly primary and secondary schools with limited services to only some ECD centres. More targeted feeding scheme interventions need to be done either through the primary health care system or through social services to reach all children at risk of malnutrition,”

Maluleke said both government and citizens needed to work together to help increase malnutrition interventions for pregnant women at risk, increase access to ECD and strengthen the protection and safety of children. 

The Statistician-General made stated that 15% of the country’s populations was made up of children aged between zero and six years who were mostly overcrowded in the Eastern Cape. Four out seven of these children lived in urban areas and a majority of them were coloured and black children, 38% and 35% respectively. 

In Gauteng, 94% of these children lived in households with main sources of piped water while 95.8% lived in households with access to improved sanitation. However, only 86% these children lived household connected to main electricity supply and that was a percentage lower than 88,6% - the country’s average.

Maluleke informed stakeholders that between 2015 and 2016, were largest crimes were committed against children, there were few successful convictions when taking into account the sum of complaints received by the police. 

He said, there were 884 murder complaints reported to the police and 1 835 complaints heard in court, while only 248 convictions were achieved. With attempted murder, there were 906 complaints received, 758 complaints heard in court and only 128 convictions. He said there were 20 254 worrying sexual offences reported to the police and 20 048 were heard in court but only 3 007 convictions were achieved.

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