The Department of Basic Education officially takes over the function shift of Early Childhood Development centres from the Department of Social Development from April 1. However, according to advocacy group Campaign for Real Reform for ECD, a fundamental shift is required for the ECD sector.
Campaign for Real Reform's Tess Peacock said they are calling on the DBE to recognise that all children have the right to life, to thrive and to develop and outlines five opportunities that the DBE should focus on in their first 1000 days on the job.
Supporters of the campaign have also thrown their weight behind the cause, adding that more needs to be done in the sector.
A Gauteng pre-school teacher, Lashiwe Farani, said the change needs to not only be visible on paper.
"The DBE must provide practitioners with training in line with the curriculum framework and provide an easy platform for registration. We need a one-stop-shop for registration and not be required to move around the whole city for compliance certificates," Farani said.
A Limpopo pre-school teacher said all children had the right to be fed and had to be subsidised according to the list of children at the centre.
Peacock said the function change offers the opportunity for a fundamental shift and to finally ensure that there is an enabling legal and regulatory framework in place for young children to thrive.
These are the five ways in which the sector can be improved, according to the campaign:
- Ensure a one-step registration process for ECD providers. Different types of ECD programme providers, including ECD centres, playgroups, toy libraries and home-based care, must be regulated differently. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate.
- All children attending any type of ECD programme should be able to access the early learning subsidy if they need it.
- Simpler, adequate health, safety and programme standards must be in place and must be assessed through one process.
- It must be made clear that ECD providers can get conditional registration if they can’t meet all the registration requirements. MECs must support providers servicing poor communities to meet registration requirements, and they must be required to report to the Minister on progress achieved.
- The infrastructure needs of the sector must be supported. ECD providers (including on private land) should be able to receive support, and municipalities must be required to provide for and maintain sufficient and appropriate ECD infrastructure in their regions.
"All children have the right to life, to thrive and to development. We want the DBE to commit to these five opportunities for reform in their first 1000 days in charge and to publicly recognise ECD as a right as they take over the function. Finally, we wish the DBE well in this important task, and we look forward to our continued collaboration with the department," Peacock said.