ECD Workshop unpacks the 2030 Strategy for ECD Programmes and the Mass Registration Drive

Significant progress has been made since the function shift from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the DBE two years ago, with four critical studies in preparation for this shift. These included the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Census, the Thrive by Five Study, the Public Expenditure and Institutional Review, and the Deep Dive Study into implementing the National Curriculum Framework. These studies have provided us with a comprehensive understanding of the sector's size, the outcomes it achieves and the challenges it faces. Armed with this knowledge, the DBE has developed a roadmap to achieve universal access to high-quality ECD programmes.

Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga delivered the keynote address during the ECD Workshop convened at the Vulindlela Campus, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in Midrand from 14 to 15 May 2024. “We launched the new 2030 Strategy for Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programmes last month. This Strategy introduces a new service delivery model for ECD programmes, designed to enable us to achieve universal access to high-quality ECD and focus on prioritising vulnerable children. Accompanying the Strategy is an implementation plan, which includes clear milestones and outcomes, serving as a roadmap to realise this vision. To make early strides in increasing access to registered ECD programmes, we will launch the Mass Registration Drive for ECD programmes in 2024, aiming at bringing all ECD programmes under regulatory oversight. This drive, coupled with the 2023 Children’s Amendment Bill, aims to simplify registration processes and expand access to quality ECD programmes. The Mass Registration Drive will be piloted in the Gauteng Province at the end of May.”

The President convened the inaugural Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on ECD on 23 April to ensure inter-governmental coordination is replicated at provincial and district levels. The objectives of the inaugural Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting were to establish the IMC through an adopted Terms of Reference; clarify the mandates of each department for ECD delivery; agree on proposed priority areas for ECD programmes; and agree on the development and reporting against a joint outcome-based monitoring and evaluation framework for ECD to track progress against priority areas.

“The early years of every child’s life provide the foundations for their future flourishing and success. In recognition of this, in the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP), the government committed to universal access to ECD by 2030, including two years of quality preschool. These are ambitious goals, and their achievement will depend on new models of cooperation, collaboration and coordination, not only across departments and spheres of government, but also with the ECD sector, social partners, business and donors – and just as importantly, with families and communities. The purpose of the 2030 Strategy for ECD Programmes is, therefore, both to provide a road map towards these goals, and to provide the basis for a new social compact between all ECD role-players, in order that effort and resources are aligned behind a common strategy,” said Basic Education Director-General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli.

The overarching strategy is informed by the DBE’s six social justice principles, each of which has been defined to carry a specific meaning and purpose for ECD. These include Access to ensure rapid ECD programme expansion (new facilities and workforce) towards universal access by 2030; Redress to ensure that historically disadvantaged population groups are prioritised; equity to ensure that ECD access and quality do not depend on a child’s background or location; quality to ensure a strong focus on quality and that regulatory standards and requirements reflect the known mediators of positive child outcomes; inclusivity to ensure that every child’s unique abilities and needs are accommodated in ECD programme provisioning; and efficiency to ensure that plans for quality access are realistic in a constrained fiscus and strategically leverage resources already in the system.

The purpose of this workshop was to bring together stakeholders from various sectors to discuss the implementation of the 2030 Strategy for ECD Programmes and the Mass Registration Drive. The workshop provided a platform for sharing experiences, identifying challenges and developing actionable recommendations to improve the quality and accessibility of ECD services in South Africa. The Strategy provides a framework to bring together the endeavours of social sector partners with government’s efforts in order to create a Social Compact for ECD that is a powerful engine to ensure that all children in South Africa have opportunities for quality ECD.

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