President Cyril Ramaphosa touched on the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector only briefly during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 10 February 2022, and the ECD sector wishes he had said more.
Speaking to News24, Jennifer McQuillan from HELP SA ECDS said that although the president mentioned the sector, there was no update on the issue of the payment of the ECD stimulus, nor the function shift from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education in April, which has left so many unanswered questions for the sector.
"The ECD sector needs reassurance and the support of President Ramaphosa," said McQuillan, adding that the support of women was mentioned, which relates to the ECD sector since it is predominantly made up of women employers and employees trying to juggle childcare and jobs, but this is not enough.
McQuillan also says that the president supports the small and medium business category, which the ECD sector falls under, but she feels nothing was said directly about Early Childhood Development centres, their needs and concerns.
"We are caring for and helping educate our country's youngest citizens, a most important task, as these are the most important years in a child's life. They are the future of our beloved country. Please can we as a sector have concrete affirmation of your support in receiving the promised funding, as well as an acknowledgement that we will receive your support in the future?" she asks.
There are also concerns around a media release sent by the Department of Social Development Western Cape Minister Sharna Fernandez on 9 February 2022 surrounding the constant delays in verifying and processing the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund payments, after national department handed over this responsibility to the provincial departments.
"Thousands of ECD centres across South Africa have been wondering for many months whether their applications for the ECD Stimulus Relief Fund have been successful or not," said McQuillan.
Fernandez alerted the sector of their commitment to complete this process as swiftly and effectively as possible.
She also mentioned that the provincial Department of Social Development is currently finding an appropriate Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) partner to assist with the verification and processing of the payments of those eligible ECD centres yet to receive funding.
But it was unclear what would happen should the financial year be reached before that was sorted or if the allocated funds would be withdrawn.
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