Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Return to school will help migration of early childhood development – Motshekga

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said ECD migration will start on 1 April 2022.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says pupils returning to school full-time will help in implementing the migration of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector.

Last year, government decided to shift the ECD sector from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE), which was lauded as “a great initiative” by many.

Addressing the media on Sunday morning, Motshekga confirmed that ECD migration will commence in April 2022.

“We also are excited that with the return to schools, we will also be able to facilitate our work around the ECD function shift. So the migration gives us, as a sector, an opportunity to craft and implement innovative strategies to strengthen the foundation of learning.

“For this reason, one of the key priorities that we have is to focus on this ECD shift which is going to begin from 1 April this year,” she said.

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The Citizen previously reported that the departments are expected to first conduct a census of all registered and non-registered ECD centres.

This will be used to integrate ECDs to the DBE’s education management information system and expand the provisions of education support programmes as well as play-based learning.

Outcomes from the baseline assessments of four year olds will assist the DBE in tracking and improving the quality of ECD provisions for the next five to 10 years, while other benefits include higher intelligence scores, less grade repetition and lower dropout rates in the future.

‘Lack of clarity’

The process of ECD migration was first announced in the 2019 State of the Nation Address (Sona) by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

But some concerns were raised by ECD teachers over the migration.

“ECD teachers highlighted their frustration with the lack of clarity about the migration, especially because they are unsure about the impact it will have in the sector.

“They are particularly concerned about the absorption and training of ECD teachers, existing resources and plans, as well as ECD practitioners who are above the age of 60,” Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Social Development said in a statement in November last year.

READ MORE: Humanitarian crisis surrounds ECD sector in poor areas

The committee indicated that the lack of provision of infrastructure and support for the ECD centres was also raised as a concern.

“The mushrooming of unregistered ECD centres that do not comply with norms and standards was attributed to this lack of support. This has compromised the safety of children in these centres.”

“The participants further called for the development of ECD centres that are equipped and accessible to children with disabilities. A call was made to the departments of Social Development and Basic Education to prioritise training of ECD practitioners on how to work with children with disabilities,” the committee said.

It called for both departments to convene a meeting with the ECD sector to provide information about the migration and address all the concerns.

Full attendance in schools

Earlier in the briefing on Saturday, Motshekga said the DBE is confident that schools are ready for the new normal.

This comes after Cabinet approved changes to alert level 1 Covid-19 regulations this week, which saw rotational classes scrapped.

From Monday, primary, secondary and special needs schools will return to daily attendance, with the regulatory provision of one-metre social distancing for pupils no longer in place.

The minister said provinces have made several preparations to accommodate all the returning pupils.

Additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea