MEC Fernandez appeals to National DSD to announce opening dates for ECDs
The Provincial Minister of Social Development Sharna Fernandez calls on the National Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu to announce a reopening date for Early Childhood Development centres as a matter of urgency, and to finalise the much awaited Directions as both the safety of children and the livelihoods of ECD workers are at stake.
“Every day that passes without the Directions finalised, and without the announcement of a reopening date, thousands of young children around the country are left without a safe space as their parents have to return to work, or have to go without a meal usually provided at the ECD centre. The risk of closure increases each day for scores ECDs, along with the risk of leaving staff and their families destitute,” says Fernandez.
Minister Zulu’s silence on the reopening of ECD centres has added to the confusion around the issuing of Directions by the Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, which initially included pre-Grade R therein. And the latest developments, says Fernandez, are bound to cause further frustration.
The Department of Basic Education’s Directions previously stated that children in pre-Grade R would reopen on 6 July. The Directions published on Tuesday, 29 June, have been amended to exclude pre-Grade R. This means that only children in Grades R to 12, as defined and regulated by the Schools Act, may return to school on the given dates. It excludes all other younger children, even if their classes are part of a public or independent school.
Therefore, whether it is an early childhood development programme that falls under the provisions of the Children's Act, or a pre-Grade R class/pre-school that is attached to a school, there currently is no date for the return of these children.
“It is for the sake of our children’s safety, and for all of the livelihoods on the line, that I once again appeal to Minister Zulu to act decisively regarding the opening date for ECDs,” says Minister Fernandez.
The Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines for the operation of ECDs were released by National DSD last week. These include safety protocols for both staff and children. The guideline measures include extensive safety training for staff, daily screening and handwashing on arrival for both staff and children, staggered arrival times per age group, and age appropriate education of children about Covid 19. For the detailed guideline about the safe return of staff and children to ECDs, a checklist for parents, and a list of social service organisations to support for ECDs, click here.