Letter to president

Colleen Daniels, Mitchell’s Plain Education Forum

An open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa in response to this letter.

I write to you at this instant as I understand that currently you must be overwhelmed with the situation in our country and the world and we want to thank you for taking the necessary precautions to keep us safe.

Mr President we will not bore you with the details in a long letter, however we wish to remind you that the early childhood development (ECD) sector has not been mentioned once in terms of any ministerial presentation thus far.

Minister of Basic Education Angelina Matsie Motshekga replied: “Oh yes, we must talk to Health about ECD” in her proposed presentation of schools reopening when asked the question from the audience.

We obeyed and closed our ECD sites as you suggested on Wednesday March 18 and sent millions of children home, without the basic nutritious meal they receive at our ECD sites.

Here I refer to our poor communities, rural communities as the advantaged crèches will always function while our poor crèches struggle to survive.

Currently we have unemployed ECD practitioners without any salary since March as the crèche principals did not register for the unemployment insurance fund (UIF).

You must understand the ECD sector – Goggos start looking after children and they charge a low fee of R50 a week but feed and stimulate our vulnerable sector.

A mere pittance is then regarded as a salary, R400 a month, yet they struggle on
for the love and
passion they have for children.

It is a sad situation that we have never ever had the political will to address the ECD sector – the most valuable industry in this country as it impacts on future economy and job creation.

We are 26 years into democracy and we thank you for your effort to start with changes in this sector, but it is far from what is needed right now.

These children are the future, but they need political will to ensure that every
ECD in this beautiful country is resourced and ensure quality best trained practitioners for them to flourish to be the future leader entrepreneurs of our country.

This is a discussion that should happen later but for now what can you offer these ECD practitioners who cannot access UIF relief or the R350 Sassa relief as they are deemed employed?

Mr President,
these women look
after the children of
this country daily
and nobody is
fighting for their rights as the sector is fragmented and nobody, except a few non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in this sector has bothered to implement developmental and sustainable workshops to ensure that we bring some unity and quality to this sector.

The discussion for when we open is going to be a major challenge for this sector in terms of the necessary requirements to flatten the curve.

I am not going to go into detail right now, but note the advantaged ECD sites will have the necessary resources to open, however, our goggas and poor communities who do not have running water, how will they be expected to teach our children about hand-washing.

Yes, we are an innovative sector and will improvise a plan with bottles, but surely the whole hygiene factor would need to be considered as well.

Sanitising, disinfecting, washing hands, practising physical distancing – who is going to support these ECD sites, as currently they have no income and will be expected to carry out all these efforts at their ECD site.

Currently our ECD practitioners in poor communities are hungry and suffering tremendous hardships.

They need your intervention, Mr President, urgently.

Mr President, if you raise these issues with our first lady, your wife, she will tell you I am correct in what I am saying.

I am just a community worker speaking for those who have no voice and if we want to crunch numbers you can ask the researchers who are particularly good at producing stats but not the core issues of hardships and challenges in this sector.

I thank you for receiving this letter and await a very favourable response.

Yours in Early Childhood Development.