Early childhood development reform misses the mark

Campaign launched to fix bill that experts say fails to improve ECD landscape

01 November 2020 - 00:00 By Tess Peacock, Rubeena Parker and Nurina Ally

The early childhood development (ECD) sector in SA has been devastated by Covid-19. Four months after the national lockdown was declared, researchers estimate that just 13% of children aged up to six years are attending ECD programmes. This is a disaster. But the crisis is not entirely new - challenges in the sector have been mounting for years.

Even before the lockdown, the majority of SA's children - most of whom live in poverty - did not have access to quality early childhood development services. An incoherent and restrictive legal framework is one of the major reasons for this. Onerous registration requirements have long held the ECD sector in a choke-hold. Consequently, almost two-thirds of ECD providers operate in the informal sector - unregulated and unfunded. They typically service the poorest areas across the country...

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