Eastern Cape children must learn in the streets, even though funding is available for ECD centres

Issued by Edmund van Vuuren, MPL
Shadow MEC for Social Development

Children are running around in the streets while the Department of Social Development is actively blocking people from starting up ECD centres, even though funding is available.

ECD centres are critical for our learners entering the foundation phase. Without this their future opportunities are stunted.

In response to a parliamentary question, , Social Development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, said only 53 743 children of the 925 900 children in the province who should be attending ECD centres, had access

This is less than 6% of the children who should be attending these centres!

The Eastern Cape is failing its children and depriving them of the fundamental building blocks of a good education!

The response revealed that the poorest and most rural areas in the province suffered shocking figures when it came to children between the ages of 0 and 4 years attending ECD centres:

In the Alfred Nzo District only 6 964 of the qualifying 134 637 children had access to ECD centres, while in the OR Thambo district, only 8 196 of the 219 282 children had access.

Even in more urban environments, such as the Nelson Mandela Metro, only 4 254 children out of 132 942 were attending ECD Centres.

SEE: IQP31 response 777

In February 2018, my colleague, Kobus Botha, posed a similar question to then MEC for Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi. The response received in March 2018 indicated the exact same number of children attend ECD centres in 2020 when compared to the number of children who attended in 2018, for 7 of the 8 districts.

However, the number of children that should be attending ECD centres in 2020 were higher in each district, than those who should have attended in 2018.

This is a clear sign that the department failed in its planning to accommodate all children in the 0 to 4 age group in ECD centres. It was very clear in 2018 that there is a great need for ECD centres in the province, yet, two years later there is still the exact same number of children receiving early childhood development.

Moreover, the department has been consistently underspending its ECD budget over the past 3 financial years (2016/17 – 2018/19).

But, while acknowledging the need, the MEC’s Department has been turning away communities who have been trying to assist their children by registering ECD centres.

Instead of providing the necessary support to these institutions, to help them become sustainable, and meet the necessary requirements, the Department has simply refused to assist, with the children being the ones who suffer.

The DA is calling on MEC Lusithi and the Department to urgently assist organisations who apply for funding for ECD centres, to provide the necessary support and capacitate these organisations to meet the funding requirements, and in so doing, provide the children of the Eastern Cape with quality ECD facilities.