The Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector calls for real reform for ECDs as the Department of Basic Education takes over the function from Social Development
The Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga officially received the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Function from the Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu at an event in Pretoria on Friday.
Ministers Motshekga and Zulu signed a pledge committing their respective ministries to the achievement of quality outcomes in the ECD Function.
The handover is the culmination of a process which was initially announced in the 2019 Sona delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa which would see the migration of the responsibility of ECD centres from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to Basic Education (DBE).
The director-general for the DBE, Mathanzima Mweli, said the DBE welcomed the shift of ECD Function as it fills in the missing piece of the education and development jigsaw puzzle.
Motshekga said there was no better way to start building the future the department imagined than to focus on reinforcing the early learning foundations. She added that the department’s partnership with the DSD will continue beyond the function shift.
“The ECD function shift will be doomed without involving civil society, the corporate sector, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations, and parents. Its success depends on our collective understanding to achieve and equitable access to quality ECDs,” she said.
Real Reform for ECD called on DBE to recognise that all children have the right to life, to thrive and to develop. The organisation further outlined five opportunities that the DBE should focus on in their first 1 000 days on the job.
“The function change offers the opportunity for a fundamental shift and to finally ensure that there is an enabling legal and regulatory framework in place for young children to thrive,” Real Reform for ECD said.
The organisation said the opportunities for the department to prioritise include ensuring a one-step registration process for ECD providers.
“Different types of ECD programme providers including ECD centres, playgroups, toy libraries and home-based care must be regulated differently. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate,” Real Reform for ECD said.
The other opportunities include that all children attending any type of ECD programme should be able to access the early learning subsidy if they need it; simpler, adequate health, safety and programme standards must be in place and must be assessed through one process; it must be made clear that ECD providers can get conditional registration if they can’t meet all the registration requirements; and the infrastructure needs of the sector must be supported.
“All children have the right to life, to thrive and to develop. We want the DBE to commit to these five opportunities for reform in their first 1 000 days in charge and to publicly recognise ECD as a right as they take over the function. Finally, we wish the DBE well in this important task and we look forward to our continued collaboration with the department,” Real Reform for ECD said.