Social Development Minister welcomes ECD ruling

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu has studied and welcomed the Gauteng High Court judgment on the reopening of early childhood development (ECDs) programmes.

Delivered on Monday, the judgment by the High Court stipulated that private nursery schools can reopen, provided they follow the safety measures put in place.  

“The Department of Social Development appreciates that the judgment upholds the department’s position that ECD centres and partial care facilities should reopen, subject to the appropriate and/or prescribed safety measures being in place. 

“This is in line with the provisions of the Children’s Act,” said the department. 

The ruling comes after the Social Development Department had taken a decision that ECD centres remain closed under level 3 of lockdown. 

Over the past few weeks, the department has been seized with the implementation and roll out of its readiness programme, working with all provinces, ECDs and stakeholders in the sector. 

This readiness programme aims to provide guidance or protocols on the operations of ECDs and to ensure that ECDs are ready to open under the current lockdown.  

“To this effect, the department wishes to emphasise and reiterate that the re-opening of ECD centres is still subject to meeting the appropriate and/or prescribed safety measures,” the department emphasised. 

The measures must comply and meet the requirements as contained in the following:

1. Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, published in Government Notice No. R. 480 of 29 April 2020 (Government Gazette No     43258), as amended, as far as it pertains to the measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 under risk level 3.

2. Standard operating procedures and guidelines for an early childhood development programme and/or partial care facility that provides an after-school service on measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 that was published by the Department of Social Development on 23 June 2020.

3. The relevant provisions and requirements as set out in the Children's Act 38 of 2005 for the registration and management of early childhood development centres.

4. The completion of the self-assessment form (Form 1) as required in terms of the Department of Social Development’s Circular dated 21 June 2020 accessible on https://forms.gle/c7y8ZL5W94diuqTS6. The forms are also available at local social development offices and service points within which ECD centres or partial care facilities operate. 

5. Any Directions that the Minister of Social Development may issue in terms of Regulation 4(5) of the Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002.

Management of the ECD centres that are to reopen, are required to establish the measures and procedures, including physical, material and programmatic requirements, as well as the requirements for the return, orientation and training of the staff. 

“The department will continue to work closely with ECDs to ensure that they are ready to open. An ECD centre that is not compliant with the minimum COVID-19 health, safety and social distancing measures on COVID-19, may not re-open until all the health, safety and social distancing measures are in place,” said the department.  

The judgment, however, does not apply to other forms of early childhood development programmes, such as child minders, playgroups, toy libraries, among others, or any partial care facility, other than a partial care facility that provides an early childhood development programme. 

The Social Development Minister is set to issue directions to be published in the Government Gazette to further guide the opening of all ECD programmes, including those in public schools. 

The department encouraged all ECD centres to continue registering through its Vangasali campaign, which can be accessed at https://www.nelsonmandela.org/vangasali. - SAnews.gov.za

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