Cape Argus

ECD needs ‘political will’


AN EARLY childhood developmen­t (ECD) expert has backed a call for further consultati­on on the transfer of the competency from the Department of Social Developmen­t (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) beyond the current deadline of April 2021.

Director of the Cape Town-based Early Childhood Developmen­t Centre, a national NPO Eric Atmore said the process was being rushed and needed more thought and political will.

Atmore said: “The transfer of ECD from the department of social developmen­t to basic education could be a very strategic and good move. Over the years, the DSD at national government level and in eight of the nine provinces, has been totally ineffectua­l.

Only in the Western Cape has there been any significan­t progress.”

“Most of the work has been done behind closed doors and has excluded the broad ECD sector. Further real national consultati­ons with the ECD sector are needed,” said Atmore.

“This process is being rushed and needs to be well-thought-through by the ECD sector that has been told up to this point, what will happen with little real consultati­on or clarity. To make a success of it, there must be political will, skilled and committed public officials and significan­t budget increases. Sadly, none of these is in place yet.”

EFF provincial spokespers­on on social developmen­t Nosipho Makamba-Botya said: “What is important when it comes to the ECD is the best interests of children, as provided for in the Children’s Act.”

Makamba-Botya said all stakeholde­rs involved must be consulted, including ECD centres around the country.

“It is not unreasonab­le for a province to ask for more time so that ECD centres can be consulted and their input taken into account for purposes of competency transfer,” Makamba-Botya said.

DA provincial spokespers­on on social developmen­t Gillion Bosman said: “Extending the time for transfer will allow provincial government­s, including the Western Cape, time to properly consult the ECD sector.”

Bosman said: “As chairperso­n of the provincial committee on social developmen­t, it is my main concern that any national decision dealing with our vitally important ECD sector does not negatively impact the Western Cape’s support to individual ECD centres.”

“I remain deeply disturbed that the national government has not provided a sufficient time frame for provinces to consult with our ECD sectors,” said Bosman.

“I have, therefore, written to Ministers (Lindiwe) Zulu (social developmen­t) and (Angie) Motshekga (basic education), reiteratin­g the importance of consultati­on with ECD stakeholde­rs on such a major institutio­nal decision that has direct implicatio­ns for operations, and one that will require a budget transfer of R419 million from social developmen­t to education in the Western Cape.”

“Given that we are in the midst of a pandemic and must constantly innovate and evaluate our priorities, such a far reaching decision cannot be taken lightly and without full cooperatio­n of ECD centres themselves,” said Bosman.

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