Speech Notes to Students Studying Early Childhood Development at the College of Cape Town
I would like to thank you for the invitation to speak to you today at the Academic Opening of your Gardens Campus.
Studies show that Early Childhood Development is crucial in the development of a stable and well-adjusted adult.
The HSRC in 2008 found that nationally less than 20% of children countrywide were likely to attend a Partial Care facility programme.
In his State of the Nation Address in the same year President Mbeki announced that Project 11 will aim to "massively speed up implementation of the ECD programme".
The goal was to double the number of delivery sites and child beneficiaries over the next two years.
We are now in 2011 and the progress is very slow.
The HSRC has compiled a list of the many, serious threats to a child's development, including:
- A pattern prevalent in countries with high maternal employment, where mothers are more likely to care for their own children
- Poor nutrition and/or substance abuse during pregnancy
- The impact of HIV and Aids on the young child
- Inadequate access to Health Care
- Diseases associated with inadequate sanitary and water services
- Stunting due to malnutrition
- Inadequate 'affectional' care
- Forms of early childhood stimulation that are not well aligned with what is demanded from the school system
- Morbidity and mortality due to unintentional injuries
- And maltreatment
It is my belief that our ECD policy must look at ways of reaching children, even when they are at home with their mothers.
ECD s are often the only time some children are able to get access to the right kind of educative stimulation from trained professionals, a decent meal and a safe, healthy environment.
Heckman and Masterov argued in 2007 that the return of human capital investments decline with age and are highest before age 5-years, when the brain is most malleable.
The 2007 San Jos process in Latin America and the Caribbean saw an expert panel of nine distinguished economists studying research about each major challenge facing children and its potential solutions.
On top of the list, at number one were integrated Early Childhood Development programmes that reflect interventions that improve the physical, intellectual and social development of children early in life.
Government needs to do far more because in terms of value received for each cent spent it is almost impossible to find alternative investments in any sector of the economy that deliver larger financial pay-offs than investments in ECDs.
- Institutionally, it can minimize the level of school dropouts and bring down repetition rates of grades in school
- It can increase levels of participation in society
- It can also improve the morale of society
- And lead to sustained improved quality of basic social services such as health, social development and education
So you see that what you are studying here has far reaching implications for the development not only of our children, but also the future of our nation.
I have been told that your ages range from 16 to 55 years and that you had a fellow student who at 70-years was studying Mathematics!
I am sure all of you have heard about the 6-month Amnesty Period the Western Cape Department of Social Development has declared from 1 February to 31 July 2011.
This is to give unregistered Partial Care facilities the opportunity to come forward and register.
To give you an idea of the sense of urgency in this regard, just over 900 facilities are registered with the Department, whilst we know of more than 1 500 unregistered facilities.
In fact, since the amnesty announcement there has been such a demand for the Application Packages for registration that we have already distributed more than 2 000.
All of us have a responsibility in terms of the Children's Act 38 of 2005 as amended to operate within the confines of the law.
We must all remain mindful of our responsibilities in terms of the Act, which are spelt out very clearly and are in the best interests of our children.
It is my goal to register at least 1 000 cr*ches over the next 6 months.
The amnesty period will not be extended after 31 July 2011 for any reason whatsoever.
Those ones operating illegally will simply be shut down.
I wish you every success with your studies and thank you for choosing ECD as a career.
Please work with us to achieve this goal.
I thank you.
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