Opinion- In the first week of September the Gauteng Premier signed a gazette on behalf of Gauteng Provincial Government to proclaim migration of early childhood development (ECD) services from the Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) to the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE).
This is after the President inhis 2019 State of the Nation Address announced that the responsibility for Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) would be migrated from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Education
The main reason for this transfer has been to improve the development of children and the quality of early childhood education. This is not to deny the important work that the Department of Social Development has done in the sector with its various stakeholders.
It is indeed true that the first few years of a child are essential in so far as character development is concerned, and in the kind of citizen they become. Furthermore,I believe this function shift will create an opportunity to bridge the income gap in South Africa. Based on evaluations of well-conceived programs, it is demonstrated that children who participate in ECD programs tend to be more successful in school, are more competent socially and emotionally, show better verbal, intellectual and physical development during early childhood than those not enrolled in high quality programs.
Over the years, in the Department of Social Development part of our programmes in the ECD sector were focused on the ECD Massification Strategy. This strategy was developed with the aimof identifying all ECD facilities, educating communities on the importance of compliance and then helping them towards registration. This was done by the Department of Social Development in line with the Children’s Act. The Children’s Act places an obligation on the DSD to regulate the provision of ECD services.
As the Department of Social Development, were cognise that early childhood care and development services is a combined responsibility that brings different sectors and role players together for the benefit of children and their families. It is for this reason we contend that no Department or single organisation can claim to provide all services that children, their parents and care givers need.
As a department mandated with the social protection and development of the most vulnerable and marginalised in our communities, we have taken seriously our work in the ECD sector. The Departments of Social Development and Education in our Province have been working together to create relevant governance structures to ensure a smooth transition. Moreover, both departments have committed that there will be no interruptions in service delivery during the transition.
As we prepare for the function shift in the year 2022 it is important to emphasise that through our support in communities, in as far as children are concerned, we will cement that child are educated far beyond the classroom because a child educated only at school is anuneducated child. Through our support programmes, we will transform how children are socialised and in the final analysis, this coupled with education in the classroom, will result in a positive impact in our communities.
As a department we are excited about this transition as we expect better education outcomes for our children. As a department we will remain committed to the social protection and development of our children.
Morakane Mosupyoe is the MEC for Social Development in Gauteng