Mitchell’s Plain and crèche principals around the country doubt whether the almost R500 million allocated to the early childhood development (ECD) sector by the national treasury will reach the rightful recipients.
This follows the national Department of Social Development’s launch of the ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund.
Last week the ECD and Basic Education working group of the C-19 People Coalition, wrote to Minister Lindiwe Zulu and sent a media release asking what had happened to the balance of the R1.3 billion initially allocated for youth compliance monitors (about R813 million). They also wanted to know when an amount of R496 million would be paid to “already distraught ECD workers, both in registered and unregistered programmes”.
The document, dated February 2 was signed by Colleen Horswell-Daniels, an ECD principal in Strandfontein.
“We believe that the time (has come) for the minister to address the ECD sector with honest and clear answers, as it has been far too long that she has not considered the social and economic impact that will result should the ECD sector collapse, due to the lack of intervention from her department,” she said.
Nigel Maggot, chairman of Mandalay Educare Forum and principal of a Rocklands educare, said several centres had already closed as pupil numbers declined.
He said if creches did not get the much needed financial assistance, it may become impossible to properly prepare children for school because qualified staff would be forced to look for work in other sectors.
Mr Maggot said the department had to take responsibility for and assist every ECD, including registered ECDs, non-profit organisations, day mothers and partial day care facilities.
“Teachers have to be paid and they also have children at home, who they need to feed and look after,” he said.
Mr Maggot said principals could ill afford sanitation products, feeding, teaching and buying thermometers to ensure Covid-19 protocols were adhered to.
“Thankfully none of our ECD principals or teachers have gotten sick or died,” he said.
Mr Maggot also serves on the committee, for Ward 116, which includes Mandalay, Mont Claire, The Farm and Beacon Valley, and forms part of Khayelitsha Sub-council, had been allocated R84 000 which could only be distributed to 120 centres.
“But there are almost 1 500 centres in these areas.
“We were told that only the people who need this funding will receive it but very limited resources have been allocated,” he said.
He said they were supported and had received relief packages from non-profit organisations, like the Lansdowne-based Early Learning Resource Unit (ELRU).
Mr Maggot said many facilities were unregistered because the registration process could take up to six months to be completed.
In a media statement, the provincial department said that of the R496 million set aside as relief for ECD workers, R53 million had been earmarked to support ECD programmes and services in the Western Cape.
ECD operators, owners or managers must apply on behalf of their ECD service, and if successful, will receive the funds to pay their ECD employees.
“Individual ECD workers cannot apply to the fund themselves,” read the statement.
Successful applicants can only use the funds to subsidise the cost of employment for workers and they will only offer financial support of a maximum of R4 470 a staff member.
The support varies according to the type of ECD service offered and a maximum of four staff members per ECD centre will be supported; and a maximum of one staff member will be supported at non centre-based ECD programmes.
These types of ECD programmes include ECD centres, playgroups, mobile ECD programmes, childminders, and toy libraries.
Joshua Chigome, spokesman for Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez, said they were the only provincial department which had continued to provide a full subsidy to fund ECD facilities programmes throughout the lockdown.
Requirements for relief funding applicants
- They have a banking account. They must be loaded on the central supplier database (CSD). ECD services that do not currently receive funding from provincial DSD will need to be registered on the CSD database, which can be done via this link: The registration number generated from the CSD database will be required for the stimulus application.
Applicants must use the govchat.app portal to apply.
For assistance with the application call 080 008 9666.
For more information about the qualifying criteria, visit www.dsd.gov.za.
Applications opened on Friday February 5 and will close at 11.59pm on Wednesday February 19.