Early Childhood Development Centre Registration Drive Continues
Statement by Western Cape Minister of Social Development Albert Fritz
Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit several Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres. We currently fund 1 060 ECDs, but despite a major registration campaign in 2011, as many ECDs still remain unregistered and are therefore not able to access the subsidy of R15 per child per day. This does not necessarily mean that they are operating illegally, but that their registration process is not yet completed.
I recently met with an ECD forum in Mitchell’s Plain to hear first-hand from the ECD practitioners what their stumbling blocks are and how government can help.
Many of the stumbling blocks or delays in their registration have to do with local government requirement, as it relates to health and safety. I have subsequently met with the City of Cape Town and we are currently negotiating an agreement with the City to relax some of the provisions for compliance, without compromising the safety of our children and teachers.
In the meantime, we are asking the fully registered ECDs to reach out to those unregistered ones in their communities in a bid to bring them on board and up to speed, not only in terms of health and safety requirements, but also sharing their learning materials and curricula – similar to a mentoring process.
This is currently working very well in Mitchell’s Plain, where some ECDs have even formed smaller "hubs" so as to work closer with either new or existing ECDs who are still in the process of getting their registration sorted.
At the end of the day, it is not about competing for government funding, but rather building bridges so that we can work collectively to promote and improve learning, stimulation and development of our young children.
I will be visiting several more communities across the province as we plan to roll out this level of co-operation throughout the Western Cape. Dedicated ECD help desks are also being set up at local social development offices in a bid to inform and assist the ECD centres that are still in the process of completing their registration.
This exercise is not just about chasing numbers. Apart from the focus on statutory compliance, there is a huge focus on the quality of learning programmes offered at the ECD centres.
To this end, we have since last year trained over 800 ECD practitioners to administer a proper curriculum that will help develop the cognitive, language and numeracy skills of young children.
I want to ensure that through the opportunities extended by the Western Cape Government, for early childhood development, we prepare and produce the best equipped learners in the country.