Members of early childhood development (ECD) centres and their supporters will start a week-long national protest to “save” some centres from shutting down.
The protest will start on Monday 17 August and run until Friday, the C19 People’s Coalition said on Monday.
The coalition is against the announcement made by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu that R1.3 billion will be allocated towards employing 36,000 youth compliance monitors in ECD.
It wants Zulu to redirect the money to support the ECD workforce.
The coalition’s Eric Atmore told News24 that they had been pushing for three months for the department to save ECDs, because many were currently closing.
He also said there was no detail on how the money will be allocated.
“The R1.3 billion is ripe for corruption,” he said.
In a statement issued on Monday morning, the coalition said: “Minister Zulu stated that R1.3 billion out of the President’s Covid-19 economic stimulus package would be allocated to the short-term employment of 36 000 youth compliance monitors for ECD programmes.
“An illogical allocation when without urgent financial aid, more than 175,000 long-term ECD workforce jobs are likely to be decimated as a result of the pandemic and the national lockdown.”
“R1.3 billion has the potential to sustain over 175,000 long-term jobs, mostly pioneered by women entrepreneurs at the community level. Jobs are at risk of being lost forever if urgent support for the ECD workforce is not forthcoming.”
It said these jobs belonged mostly to women working in some 30,000 centres across the country, which without support were set to close their doors permanently.
“In addition, almost one million children will be affected by the closure of these centres, and one million other jobs that depend on access to childcare will be affected indirectly.”
It also said it had been campaigning for the ECD workforce to receive support from the department.
It said a letter was sent to Zulu on 7 August, asking for a meeting and calling on her to redirect the R1.3bn to support the ECD workforce directly and to disburse these funds in the form of ECD Continuity Grants.
“Since then, thousands of members of the ECD workforce have sent her emails requesting the same thing. To date they have received no responses nor an acknowledgement of receipt.”
On 13 August 2020, it sent a follow-up letter to the minister and had yet to receive a reply, it said.
“ECD members and their supporters will be participating in digital/online and in-person pickets across the country to increase the pressure on Minister Zulu to respond.”