ECD HAS COME TO A HALT
2020 is a year that seemed to hold so much potential for making changes to provisioning of care and education to children birth to six years, especially with the shift from DSD to DBE.
The South African Congress for ECD planned provincial marches and a national march for 20 April 2020 with the theme of “Enough is enough”.
ECD Practitioners are still the Cinderella sector with no proper recognition, lack of funding to support training and capacity building, lack of basic conditions of service and an overall negative response from government when support is requested.
All the intended plans were put in place and then COVID-19 happened.
ECD Centres were instructed to close by the Department of Social Development on 20 March 2020 so that the transmission of the virus could be prevented and working with government regulations to flatten the curve of infections.
ECD Centres throughout South Africa supported this call by DSD but there were unintended consequences for thousands of ECD Practitioners as well as ECD Centres which had to be maintained.
Parents stopped paying the monthly fees to ECD Centres citing that the ECD Centres delivered no service and that they had to look for alternative care for their children which cost them money. The SA Congress for ECD urged parents to continue paying nonetheless.
Businesses which rented out premises to ECD Centres closed their doors and Principals could not access their place of work.
The remuneration of ECD Practitioners ended abruptly by the end of March 2020 and till end of May 2020 many ECD Practitioners have been in dire straits depending on food parcels from benevolent organisations and government structures.
ECD Centres that were located on business premises could not pay the monthly rental and some have had to remove their equipment with some ECD Centres locked by landlords.
Some registered ECD Centres were registered with the UIF and could submit claims for lack of income and loss of employment. This process was tedious and fraud with delay and frustration. Some claims have eventually been paid out in May 2020 since March 2020.
Unregistered ECD Centres which are located in the poorest of poor communities found themselves floundering applying for assistance from every available source such as the R350 Relief Grant, National Lotteries Commission and DSD. To date no assistance has been forthcoming.
The South African Congress for Early childhood Development approached the UIF for relief support for ECD Centres. No response was even received or acknowledgement of application.
The plight of the unregistered ECD Centres were raised with DSD but to date there has been no response.
The South African Congress for Early Childhood Development partnered with Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ilifa Labantwana, Bridge and NECDA and a survey was compiled of all the unregistered Centres and how the Lockdown impacted their livelihood. From this research it was clear that about 175 000 ECD Practitioners had no recourse to support. This research report was submitted to the Solidarity Fund established by the President, different government departments, the Presidency and donors but to date no positive response was received.
In May 2020 the South African Congress for Early childhood Development partnered with the National ECD Alliance to establish the ECD COVID Support Fund for registered and conditionally registered ECD Centres. An Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) will be established separate from the two organisations consisting of DSD, DBE, UNICEF, ECD Experts and donors to manage and govern the funding and receive applications. The process will fully start after the first meeting of the IOC.
In May 2020, the Department of Social Development hosted a meeting of the ECD Intersectoral Forum consisting of all ECD formations and government to discuss and map a way forward for the reopening of ECD Centres. Eight workstreams were established to consider all the implications and how to plan for a coordinated and safe opening of ECD Centres. The South African Congress for ECD nominated members to serve in all the workstreams to ensure that especially unregistered ECD Centres are considered for support and processes to register with the opening protocols.
The DSD launched the Vangasali Campaign on 2 June 2020 to identify and obtain data of every registered and unregistered ECD Centre and programme in South Africa. The theme is “NO child will be left out”. All registered and unregistered ECD Centres are encouraged to submit their details to the DSD so that the ECD landscape can be properly planned and supported for the reopening of ECD Centres.
Whilst many ECD Practitioners are discouraged and feel abandoned by all the negative and non-responses from applications, we must not lose hope. We must continue to persist and demand and call upon government, donors and stakeholders to increase access to ECD.
2020 has had a difficult and challenging start for all sectors in our economy and the prevailing circumstances may not improve but get even worse when the food parcels dry up and unemployment increases. As ECD Centres open, many would have closed down and ECD Practitioners will be left with an uncertain future.
Let us use all available avenues to pursue that all children in South African are in ECD Centres that are safe and have a curriculum that will develop them socially, educationally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope.
Hope breeds peace.
NATIONAL CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK
The prevailing COVID conditions require innovation and revising of the learning programme for all ECD centres. All ECD Centres should work closely with the National Office and the facilitators that are trained in the provinces to review the activities and learning that should take place from the reopening of the ECD Centres till December 2020. The shift of the leadership of ECD from DSD to DBE is one of the priorities that will be considered for the reopening of the ECD Centres. It means that the learning programmes must be registered with DBE. The National Office is holding online meetings with facilitators and sending out material to support the revision of the Curriculum.
The SA Congress for ECD is a membership organisation and has the following categories for membership:
-Individual membership at R200 per annum
-ECD Centre /organisational membership at R300 for three years
-Associate Membership for National Organisations at R300 per annum
The individual membership of R200 per annum includes a Beneficiary Support amount that is paid to a nominated beneficiary on the unfortunate death of the member. This is a token of appreciation for supporting the organisation.
Application forms can be downloaded from our website (www.sacecd.org) or
Provincial Chairpersons or
National Membership Co-ordinator: Meisie Sigudhla 074 244 3370