Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres from across the Western Cape braved the cold on Friday morning to march from Hanover Street to the provincial legislature in Wale Street, to demand the government support and fund the sector.
South African Congress for Early Childhood Development (SACECD) Western Cape chairperson Theodora Lutuli said the memorandum was addressed to the provincial departments of education, social development and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
Ms Lutuli said during the Covid-19 lockdown, president Cyril Ramaphosa had announced a relief fund for ECD centres to assist them with the well-being of the children and training for the educators, among other things.
She said to date, people had only received a part of the funding, if any funding, and the deadline had been at the end of March this year .
“Most ECD centres have closed down because loss of income, and we are jobless.Those who are not funded are struggling – even with nutrition for the kids.
“We want to know why we are not receiving funding, but mostly, we want the government to recognise us. There are talks about the ECD centres joining the department of basic education, but there were no talks with us. We can do well with training, upskilling and development. Passion is not enough anymore – support is key.”
The government has been given 21 days to respond to the SACECD, and Ms Lutuli said the outcome will determine the next course of action.
Elde Wilskut, from the Grape Vine ECD Forum in Worcester, said since the lockdown, ECDs were struggling because there are not enough children in the centres to maintain it. “Most parents have lost their jobs and the kids didn’t re-register.
She said they needed the additional funding for support, and wanted recognition from the government so that “everyone can benefit from a partnership”.
Vice chairperson of the Greater Grassy Park ECD Forum, Sylvia Prezens said there was no consultation with the ECD forums about the funding, which has not been paid yet.
“No one has asked me what we need. Less children are in our centres, so we can’t pay educators and we cannot accommodate the children because parents can’t pay.”
Executive committee member of the Mitchells’ Plain Educare Forum, Sakeena Moyce said the créches they represent have yet to receive anything from the relief fund.
“Majority (of us) didn’t get. It is so sad to hear we are still waiting. It’s tough out there. We were closed during the hard lockdown. Parents had to return to work and there is no one to look after the children.
A teary eyed Ms Moyce said: “We are not happy – ECD centres are counting on that money.”
“I’m glad we could come here and make our voices heard for the children,” she said.