First, SONA, now the budget. When will access for preschools and daycares be prioritised?

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The government needs a new strategy and now is the time. Photo: Getty Images
The government needs a new strategy and now is the time. Photo: Getty Images

A month ago, the Early Childhood Development centres (ECDs) expressed concerns around a brief mention of the sector during the State of The Nation Address (SONA) by president Cyril Ramaphosa, stressing the need to be heard and provided with better provisions in the next sitting.

However, it turns out that even the allocated budget is below inflation. 

Sane Mdlalose, Acting CEO at SmartStart a non-profit organisation, is calling for the government to increase budget allocations moving forward to ensure the country can realise its vision of universal access by 2030.

SmartStart is focused on increasing access to early learning for children aged three to five. 

Read: Universal access by 2030? We need to rethink early childhood development.

An average growth rate of 1.7%

Mdlalose says that as an enabler of early learning, SmartStart fully supports the government's plan to achieve universal access to early education by 2030. But if year-on-year budget increases stay at the current level, Mdlalose foresees this goal being off track.

She believes that there is a need to see a significant increase in budget allocations for ECDs to realise this vision.

R1.1-billion has been set aside for ECD subsidies to provide and increase the number of children accessing subsidised ECD services for the 2022 to 2023 period.

But, Mdlalose says that of this budget, R97.9-million is allocated for maintenance improvements to support ECD providers and to pilot new, low-cost ECD centres, representing an average growth rate of 1.7%, one of the lowest growth rates in the basic education budget.

Recalling the president's speech during SONA about a month ago, Mdlalose notes that the government promised to work harder to ensure South African pupils get the quality education they need.

Still, she says that the main challenge for the government lies in figuring out how to create these opportunities and improve access.

According to Mdlalose, at least one million South African children do not have access to any form of early learning, which is an issue that all people, including our communities, interested organisations, and government, need to address before moving forward.

She says that access to early learning programmes is limited, especially in under-serviced communities, for several reasons, including the complex legislation processes involved in setting them up.

Making an example of this, Mdlaliso says that if we look at a simple thing such as registering an early learning programme, complications such as meeting specific building requirements arise.

She says it is difficult for those in informal and other low-income communities to register and receive subsidies from the government, resulting in children being left out.

Mdlalose notes that cost is another factor since many South African parents and caregivers cannot afford schooling for their children from such an early age – even at a nominal rate.

She says that the economists tell us that the return on investment for every rand spent in the early years is substantially higher than for every rand spent on primary, secondary or tertiary education.

This, according to Mdlalose, should encourage government and corporates to invest in early learning and subsidise programme attendance for those in need.

Must read: We speak to pre-school owners about their transition to DBE governance

With the move from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Education by April 2022 for South Africa's ECD sector, Mdlalose says this allows the government to relook at how the industry is structured and make changes necessary to improve the development of children and the quality of early childhood education.

Despite the contribution of many non-profit organisations and dedicated ECD practitioners, Mdlalose says that the dial has barely moved in terms of improved access to quality ECD.

Mdlalose says the knock-on impact on educational outcomes and jobs and businesses are substantial but underappreciated.

She stresses that more of the same approach will not change our children's rights and our economy's necessities. 

Mdlalose proposes that now is the time for the government to have a new strategy.

Chatback:

Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback@parent24.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Don't miss a story!

For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice, sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.

Follow us, and chat, on Facebook and Twitter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 1596 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
53% - 8575 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
34% - 5418 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 513 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.17
+0.5%
Rand - Pound
19.63
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
16.59
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.52
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.2%
Gold
1,802.29
0.0%
Silver
20.82
0.0%
Palladium
2,227.50
0.0%
Platinum
966.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
98.15
-1.5%
Top 40
63,996
-1.0%
All Share
70,731
-0.8%
Resource 10
64,048
-2.8%
Industrial 25
86,577
-0.6%
Financial 15
16,059
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE