Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu welcomed the migration of Early Childhood Centres (ECDs) and their function to the department of basic education, saying it will undo past injustices and play a role in dismantling intergenerational poverty.
Speaking at a handover event at the weekend, the minister said part of the legacy of the pre-democracy government was the marginalisation of black children from receiving early childhood development, which later limits their chances of employment and overall quality of life.
Zulu said the migration of ECDs and their function will ensure equal access to education, employment and other opportunities for women and men across all racial groups.
“The latest employment data is painting a picture that says unemployment has climbed to 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021. The migration of the ECD function from social development to basic education should serve as a means by which we definitively challenge this jobs market narrative. This is the opportunity to start dismantling intergenerational poverty among all our people,” said the minister.
She said efforts were under way to equip ECD practitioners with the required skills and qualifications to ensure provision of high-quality teaching and learning at all centres.
“Not only is it our explicit commitment for every South African child to receive quality education and support that will enable them to lead a patriotic, productive and meaningful life as members of their communities, it is also our conviction that every South African is a long-awaited prospect with which the global community will be redefined in the global community,” said the minister.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga pledged to work with community-based organisations to make quality early childhood development accessible for all children.
The handover of the ECD sector to basic education was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address in 2019.
The president said this would also pave the way for two years of compulsory ECD for children before they enter grade 1.
“This is essential in equipping children to succeed in education, in work and in life, and is possibly the single most important factor in overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality,” said Ramaphosa.
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