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South Africa: Poor State of Early Childhood Development in Black Communities to Receive Attention
Source: Issued by: Department of Social Development
Source Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Country: South Africa
Created: Aug 20, 2013

The National Planning Commission’s Diagnostic Overview 2012, points out that “the quality of early childhood education and care for poor black communities is inadequate and generally very poor. Despite the policy commitment to early childhood development, implementation in the poorest communities lags behind and it is reflected in the development indicators on children.”
The National Development Plan thus identifies the following as some of the central challenges to universal access to ECD:
• Funding for infrastructure and staff;
• Training for teachers;
• Learner support materials and equipment;
• Strengthening of support agencies;
• Reaching the most vulnerable children and families; and
• Ensuring that departments responsible for different aspects of early childhood development work together.
The overall improvement of ECD provisioning can only be informed by better analysis and understanding of the extent to which the norms and standards for service provision is met. This audit is therefore crucial to any successful strategy of up-scaling ECD as well as ensuring a more equitable arrangement in terms of resource allocation, planning and policy formulation.

The Children’s Act stipulates a number of norms and standards that an ECD centre must meet. These include a safe environment for children; proper care for sick children or children that become ill; adequate space and ventilation; safe drinking water; hygienic and adequate toilet facilities; safe storage of anything that may be harmful to children; access to refuse disposal services or other adequate means of disposal of refuse generated at the facility; a hygienic area for the preparation of food for children; measures for the separation of children of different age groups; the drawing up of action plans for emergencies; and the drawing up of policies and procedures regarding health care at the facility.

All ECD programmes are expected to provide appropriate developmental opportunities; programmes aimed at helping children realise their full potential; caring for children in a constructive manner and providing support and security; ensuring development of positive social behaviour; respect for and nurturing of the culture, spirit, dignity, individuality, language and development of each child; and meet the emotional, cognitive, sensory, spiritual, moral, physical, social and communication development needs of children.

Minister for Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, says this audit is critical because early childhood development has been identified by Government as one of the most important interventions linked to Government’s Outcome 1 – Improving The Quality Of Basic Education. “We want to make visible progress on the issue of early childhood development by establishing ECD Centres throughout the country, especially in poor communities. The information we will gather through this audit will ensure a structured roll out of effective, properly resourced ECD Centres,” said Minister Dlamini.

The audit will begin in the Northern Cape on 19 August; then move to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State during September; followed by the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo in October; and conclude in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in November.

Media enquiries:
Lumka Oliphant
Cell: 083 484 8067
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