Demand the South African Government to Announce Dates for the Reopening of ECD Centres

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Centre for Early Childhood Development
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Demand the Departments of Education and Social Development to Announce Dates for the Reopening of ECD Centres

On 19 May 2020, the Department of Basic Education announced the official dates for the reopening of primary school and high schools across South Africa, starting with Grade 12 and Grade 7 on 01 June, and ending with Grade R on 21 September. Minister Angie Motshekga mentioned ECD centres by saying that the Basic Education department is in discussion with the Department of Social Development and would provide feedback on ECD centres reopening. No timeline for this announcement was given. This is one of the first times ECD centres were mentioned in government’s statements. This is not good enough.

The reality is that ECD is the single most important phase of a child’s development, with early education setting the foundation for later success in formal education.

Across South Africa, some 100,000 ECD workers educate and care for approximately 2,3 million children at 32,000 ECD centres. This contributes R10 billion to South Africa’s economy.

In a country with a weak, ineffectual education system, such as South Africa, is it critical that children are able to access ECD as soon as it is safe to do so. Additional concerns include:

  • Incidents of child neglect, maltreatment, and malnutrition are soaring during lockdown.
  • Essential workers require somewhere for their children to go and be cared for. As lockdown is lifted, all parents will require this.
  • ECD centres are struggling to survive this lockdown, and as such, many of these facilities will have to close down, being unable to reopen once lockdown is lifted.

We are not calling on ECD centres to open immediately, with no systems in place for keeping children safe. We are calling on the government to finalise their plans immediately and communicate this to the public of South Africa, so that ECD centres are able to plan for their sustainability and families are able to plan for the care of their children.