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.