Today I visited two Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, that ActionSA has assisted in upgrading over the past couple of months. This is part of a broader project we launched earlier this year to improve access to quality ECD centres in communities around Gauteng.
ECD centres play in crucial role in ensuring that children receive the care and support they need during their formative years. Despite this, in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, the Minister of Finance announced a proposed R50 million infrastructure budget cut for ECDs. This is devastating to South Africa’s more than 40,000 ECD centres.
The South African Government absurdly spends a meagre R17 a day on a child in a state authorised ECD centre, and R363 a day on a prisoner in one of our thousands of prisons. Investing in the future of our country requires that we prioritise our young children, and making sure that they get the best possible start to their education journey.
That is why hundreds of delegates at ActionSA’s inaugural policy conference in September 2023 voted that when ActionSA takes over government, additional funding will be directed to ECD centres countrywide while ECD practitioners will receive additional support. We must ensure that young children can learn and play at ECD centres that are safe, provide access to healthy nutrition, and that provides children with an educational foundation.
ActionSA’s education policy now proposes that the training of ECD practitioners should be expanded, including providing training to informal ECD centres to help them better equip young children.
The bureaucratic hurdles to ECD centre registration should furthermore be removed to help more centres become government-registered and therefore receive state funding, and private partnerships should be welcomed to attract more investment into the industry. Ensuring access to affordable ECDs is a critical part of empowering South African parents, particularly women, to access economic opportunities.
We simply cannot allow our children to be let down by the South African Government which has to adequately support the ECD industry.
ActionSA, a party committed to quality education, will therefore work tirelessly to highlight the plight of ECD centres and lobby role-players to ensure that they get the additional support they deserve.