“What we are witnessing here today is a historic moment. It is the beginning of an exciting era. Gone are the days when our children will pray, sing, eat and sleep, then go home. We are closing the gap with an entire world.”
This was the statement made by Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi, as his department officially took over the function of early childhood development (ECD) centres in the province.
Lesufi said the migration was firmly with the Department of Education, but the partnership with the Social Development Department continues.
The migration process is aimed at improving the development of children and the quality of ECD education.
“We are currently training a number of ECD practitioners/educators. Accordingly, there must be no one that will say the migration left them worse off or unemployed, but the migration must make them better,” he said.
The MEC further announced that, by 2023, all primary schools in Gauteng will have ECD classrooms, with proper learning materials.
The department is in the process of building five ECD centres of the future, with appropriate infrastructure. The following areas will benefit from new structures: Tembisa, Ratanda, Bekkersdal, Soshanguve, and Braamfischer.
MEC For Social Development Morakane Mosupyoe said, in 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the ECD function would be moved from the Department of Social Development to the Education Department.
“We had to ensure that all ECDs in the province are compliant. There is a lot of work that we did to ensure that children are ready for school. We will continue the partnership with the Department of Education because Social Development remains custodians of the Children’s Act.
“We are not just handing over the function, but we are also giving them the infrastructure. We had to formalise our relationship with the ECDs,” MEC Mosupyoe added.
The ECD function shift is in line with other countries, that have moved from viewing ECD less as a child protection function and more as an early learning function, that is led and coordinated by national ministries of education. The migration process is aimed at improving the development of children and the quality of ECD education.