Call for partnerships to improve access to ECD sector

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Gauteng Education MEC, Matome Chiloane has called on education stakeholders and people with interest in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) and care sector, to collaborate with each other in order to ensure the success of the sector.

Chiloane made this remark during an ECD open day held at Nkone Maruping Parimary School, Bramfisherville on Saturday.

Held under the theme “Working together towards improving access to Early Childhood Education and Care”, the open day, follows an Early Childhood Development seminar hosted by the Gauteng Education, in partnership with the Italian Municipality Reggio Emelia Romagna.

The seminar, which was held three months ago aimed at exchanging ideas and also learning more about Reggio Emelia’s approach to Early Childhood Development.

Chiloane said the seminar was part of the department’s processes to solidify its plans for the incorporation of some of the aspects of the didactical Reggio Emilia Approach that is child-centered for formalising and expansion to other ECDs.

The MEC said South Africa has declared that ECD is the foundational source of human capital to drive education, jobs and growth.

“We strongly believe that early learning has such a far-reaching impact and will improve the economy, strengthen the middle class, lift people out of poverty, support working parents and equip the country.

“This assertion is supported by the studies conducted by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and World Bank when they tracked the trends in Latin America, Asia and eastern as well as southern Africa, they found that preschool education has a positive effect on children’s ability to succeed in school and to obtain higher wages in the labour market,” Chiloane said.

The MEC also noted that the migration of ECD to the education sector, has allowed the department platforms for scale to be built, and there is a commitment to design a system of service delivery that is fit-for-purpose.

“This will be built on existing programmes of nutrition support and early learning that are designed for scale, which can achieve coverage targets by 2030. It must be noted that the ECD sector can stimulate large numbers of jobs and micro-enterprises which is also a response to job creation.”

Study on key developmental domains of ECD

The MEC further reflected on the path breaking thrive by five report of a study commissioned by the Department of Basic Education to assess three key developmental domains of ECD that are associated with longer-term outcomes.

These include Early Learning, Physical Growth and Social- Emotional Functioning.

He said the study has found that most children are unable to thrive by five and are not on track for their physical and cognitive development. 

“Importantly, this report also suggests that children not accessing ECD services in the poorest communities are falling far behind and therefore efforts to address the barriers to accessing ECD services and programs need to be strengthened between government and community partners, or we risk that these children will never be able to catch up with their peers from wealthier communities,” Chiloane highlighted.

Through Gauteng Government Township, Informal Settlements and Hostels (TISH) programs, the department will ensure that a significant investment is made in ECDs that are based in TISH.

“Significant progress has been made in the eight priority areas that are the pillars of the ECD of the future. In our efforts of investing and changing the outlook of ECDs, we are guided by the understanding that the taller the building, the deeper the foundation.

“Therefore, the nurturing of world class citizens that possess skills of the future does not start at matric, but at the foundational phase of our children’s education. On our part, we will spare no effort in building the ECDs of the future, we invite all stakeholders to join us in this journey,” the MEC said. –