Early Childhood Development migration will only work if government takes it seriously – experts

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A planned move of the sector from the department of social development to the department of basic education is causing confusion.

The migration of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector from the department of social development to the department of basic education could be good, but government has failed to provide the steps it wishes to take to achieve it, said experts.

The government held a workshop over the weekend to discuss the way forward regarding the migration.

ANC spokesperson Bones Modise said the meeting addressed the confusion among practitioners in the sector around the migration and whether they would still be able to operate without constraints.

“We need to have a formal syllabus for children under the age of six to introduce them to education so they don’t learn things that will not be useful to them in formal school.

“At the workshop we wanted all stakeholders to be involved. The syllabus cannot be formed in isolation so we wanted to hear all views so we can finalise it to be implemented either next year or in 2021,” said Modise.

Although he said the government was still in the consultation stage of initiating the migration, experts criticised government’s lack of clarity in presenting its plans.

DA shadow minister for basic education Nomsa Marchesi said the migration is “not a bad idea, because it should actually be the education department that controls that kind of teaching. “The foundation phase is critical to learning and if the pupils do not have a good base, they have a lower chance of making it to matric and get a good job,” Marchesi said.

“The only concern I would raise is to look at the funding, because we have not been given an actual plan of implementation and who exactly it would affect. “We currently are having private companies or people running ECDs privately.

We do not have a clear mandate of what is going to happen. My main concern is about budgeting – and also the allocation for these kinds of plans.”

Another expert concerned about the lack of clarity from the government was Centre for Early Childhood Development’s Professor Eric Atmore.

He referred to the migration as an “untested concept”, scant on details on how it would take place. “The government doesn’t seem to have a set policy or plan in place. We need to give them time so they can come up with a clear direction on how they plan to migrate the sector.”

Atmore said it was too early to comment on whether it would work but if the government took it seriously, it could.

“There is a severe lack of political will from the government) and, right now, I don’t think this migration will be in the best interest of the young children. “There needs to be a political statement made that young children are important. The government needs to aim at making sure all their needs are met,” Atmore said.

– jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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