Members of the Khayelitsha Early Childhood Development Forum gathered at the community hall in Site B for a prayer service.The event was held on Friday, and among the dignitaries who attended were Ward 38 Councillor Monde Nqulwana, Khayelitsha Development Forum Chairperson Ndithini Tyhido, including local church leaders.The forum’s chairperson and founder of Khanyisa Educare Centre in Makhaza, Boniswa Mxhakaza said the objective is to ask the Creator to help them stay resolute in their mission.“As ECD practitioners we wish for God can protect us and the children that we are looking after. Also to create a favourable relationship with government departments.”She said sometimes they feel as if they are marginalised by government because whenever they(government) takes crucial decisions regarding the ECD sector, they are not consulted. “The Department of Education has instructed that 80% of the grant they give us must go towards the payment of staff, and use the remainder to buy food.Whereas the Department of Social Development said 40% must pay educators and another 40% must be used to buy food. These are some of the decisions that were taken without our consultation as a forum,” she stated. She described Educare Centres as the foundation phase for the children. Mxhakaza urged the government to subsidy the land for Educare Centres in their areas. “We are struggling to get land from government because they inflate the prices. And for any Educare Centre to be registered, must have a plot and get approval form the City’s health inspector,” she said adding that even getting a tax clearance certificates and a non-profit number from the South African Revenue Services take time. “I applied for my tax clearance certificate in 2011 and am still waiting for it,” she said. Mxhakaza said they also want to be an autonomous body under the Khayelitsha Development Forum.“We have more than 400 Educare Centres in Khayelitsha and 15 Area Forums. We want to be in their (KDF) calendar and be represented when there is an event,” she said. KDF chairperson Ndithini Tyhido supported Maxhakaza’s sentiment that their sector be independent so that they can be able to raise their interests. “ECD is a most important step to develop our children. But as a forum, we have concerns about the Department of Education for allowing ECD’s to be governed by Department of Social Development because they (Department of Education) don’t pay the teachers,” he said.Tyhido also chastised parents for taking their children to far flung neighbouring areas for their education. “Parents wake children up earlyin the morning to take them to the Educare Centres in neighbouring areas because they want them to learn English. If English is the main reason to take their children to other areas, why can’t government build these centres here and hire teachers to teach them here?”“If the children are studying in Mitchells Plain they are not learning English only but adopt other cultures and lose their identity. Ward councillor Monde Nqulwana urged all councillors in Khayelitsha to assist their centres in their wards. V To page 3.