President Cyril Ramaphosa says the growth of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres is a fine example of social entrepreneurship that contributes to job creation and the development of children.
The President said this at the opening of the newly refurbished Little Flower Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD) in Nkantolo village in the Eastern Cape.
The centre, which has been operating for several years from an informal structure, is located within the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Local Municipality.
“These are solid foundations we have sought to build upon. That is why government, in partnership with civil society organisations and donors, is working to address the barriers that ECD centres are facing so that every child has an equal chance at a better life,” the President said.
He said the construction of Little Flower ECD centre is the outcome of such partnerships.
The ECD is also a pilot site for a new form of ECD centre construction using alternative building technologies.
“The more we are able to move with the times and harness new applications, the more centres like this one can be built, using less resources and with greater speed,” President Ramaphosa said.
Over the past five years, the Department of Social Development has collaborated with various stakeholders to build 248 ECD centres around the country.
Social Development also introduced the Vangasali campaign, which is a partnership between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Department of Basic Education to enhance ECD service delivery.
The campaign helps ECD centres to become formalised and it supports ECD workers.
National Treasury has allocated an amount of just over R1.2 billion as a conditional grant in this financial year to expand ECD services.
“This aims to increase the number of children accessing ECD services by subsidising children from indigent families. It also helps conditionally registered ECD centres to meet the basic requirements needed to be fully registered.
“Through subsidy interventions we have been able to support nutrition at the centres, provide for workers to be paid and support the acquisition of learning materials,” the President said.
Through the Presidential Employment Stimulus, around 54 000 ECD practitioners have received support to ensure the survival and reopening of ECD centres in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2012, when the South African government declared ECD to be for the public good and embarked on an ECD expansion programme, millions of South African children under the age of six have benefited.
“We remain committed to our goal of universal ECD access by 2030 and are working hard to achieve it.
“I want to thank all who have made the construction of this centre possible – Impande, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, traditional and community leaders, and parents. Little Flower is a centre of which we can all be proud,” the President said.
He said the centre is a fitting tribute to the icons of the liberation struggle, who were born and spent their childhood in the community, foremost among them being Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
“Were she with us today, she would be proud to see this centre and to see the happy faces of our children. Our thanks go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other partners for supporting the Vangasali campaign,” he said.
The President further sent his gratitude to the Departments of Social Development and Basic Education for their efforts.
“Early Childhood Development is an area that Dr Motsepe and I have been very passionate about over the years. We will continue to contribute what we can, where we can.
“It is the duty of us all to help the children of South Africa to get the best in order for them to become the best. Let us work together to create conditions in which the life prospects of a child are not hindered by the circumstances of their birth. Let us build on the successes we have made. Let us leave no child behind,” the President said.