Children’s development not a priority in the Eastern Cape

As the world marks Universal Children’s Day (20 November 2018), there are close to one million children under the age of five in the Eastern Cape who will not be able to access fully functional early childhood development centres (ECD’s) because the Department of Social Development is dragging its heels.

These children are being deprived of the very foundation that would help lift them out of institutionalised poverty and provide them with the skills to build a better future for themselves.

I have written to the MEC of Social Development, Dr Pumza Dyantyi, requesting details on the Department’s plan to ensure that all children under the age of five in the province have access to ECD centres, and what is being done to ensure that the Department spends its full budget on these projects.

For the past four years the Department has constantly underspent funds on the Early Childhood Development sub-programme, with the last annual report showing an underspend of R25-million.

In response to a parliamentary question, Social Development MEC, Pumza Dyanti, said the province only had 2,040 registered ECD centres, and only 1,292 registered centre-based ECD programmes.

By her own admission, the Department needs an additional 8,318 ECD centres.

SEE: IQP 36 Q32

The Department has also returned R22,67 million of the R56 million ECD grant allocated to it, making the province the worst preforming province in relation to ECD grants in the country.

How is it possible then that they are underspending their budget if there is such a dire need?

Officials blame the lack of proper effective and efficient inter-governmental cooperation. The net effect of government’s inability to pull together, means that fewer children are being enrolled in respect of ECD programmes.

It is becoming clear that the failing ANC government has turned it back on the future of our children. These children have been robbed of their right to receive adequate nutrition, care and opportunities to learn and prepared them for “big” school.

Money meant for ECD centres must be spent on ECD centres.

Under a DA-led government we can fix this broken Department and bring about quality service delivery to the people of the Eastern Cape. Change that will enable more children to get access to well-equipped, functional ECD centres.