Programmes » ECD

Early Childhood Development

The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Directorate at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) encompasses the critical period from birth to five years of age. It is during this time that the foundation is laid for a child's physical, cognitive, emotional and social development.

The DBE recognizes the crucial importance of investing in the early years to ensure that every child can reach their full potential. Quality ECD programmes and services have been shown to improve school readiness, academic achievement and lifelong well-being, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In 2022, the South African government took a significant step towards strengthening our national ECD ecosystem by transferring responsibility for all ECD functions to the DBE. This has provided an important opportunity to review and enhance our approach to supporting the holistic development of young children.

As part of this process, the DBE is working collaboratively with partners across government, civil society and the private sector to develop and implement comprehensive ECD policies, programmes and initiatives. Our efforts are guided by a commitment to ensuring that every child has access to quality, inclusive and age-appropriate early learning and development opportunities.

Key focus areas include expanding access to ECD programmes, particularly in underserved communities; strengthening the quality of ECD services through practitioner training and support; developing infrastructure and resource norms and standards; and promoting integrated service delivery across health, nutrition, social protection and parenting support.

We believe that by working together to build a strong foundation for our youngest citizens, we can create a brighter, more equitable future for all South Africans. We invite all stakeholders to join us in this critical mission.

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