'Where is the money?': Preschools and daycares protest over stimulus fund non-payment

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"Preschools and daycares marched to Parliament over stimulus fund non-payments." Photo: Supplied/HELPSAECDs
"Preschools and daycares marched to Parliament over stimulus fund non-payments." Photo: Supplied/HELPSAECDs

The Early Childhood Development ( ECDs) sector peacefully marched to Parliament on Thursday 17 March 2022, to demand the Department of Social Development (DSD) pay the stimulus funds owed to them.

The sector is asking the DSD to settle outstanding claims by 31 March 2022.

Representatives of the sector are demanding too that government hold DSD accountable and ensure that the desperately needed funds are paid before the financial year ends, or before the sector moves to the Department of Basic Education in April 2022.

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

Marchers delivered a memorandum asking for the funds that were allocated to them when the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, announced that R1.3 billion of the president's economic stimulus package would be allocated to the ECD sector in July 2020.

The memorandum states that from the original R1.3 billion available for the ECD sector, the DSD secured only R588 million from the Treasury, losing at least R712 million for the ECD sector.

Representatives say the DSD failed to present a credible and coherent bid to Treasury.

The memorandum also states that 58 000 ECD workers are still waiting for the funds to be paid to them by the Department of Social Development. Only 58,471 ECD workers were paid in the 2020/2021 budget out of the 116 578 ECD workers who applied for the funds.

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On 24 February 2022, the National Department of Social Development revealed that only R216 million has been paid out to 58 471 ECD workers in 12 months - which is less than 50% of the total fund.

With this peaceful march the ECD sector hopes to be heard, and ultimately paid what is owed to them by the end of March 2022.

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