South Africa: Departments of Basic Education and Social Development Brief Joint Portfolio Committee Meeting on ECD Function Change

Departments of Basic Education and Social Development Brief Joint Portfolio Committee Meetings on ECD Function Change

The Ministries of Basic Education and Social Development today briefed a joint session of the Portfolio Committees on Basic Education and Social Development on the progress of the Early Childhood Development Function Change.

Following announcements on Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the February 2019 State of the Nation Address, the Ministries of Basic Education (DBE) and Social Development (DSD) have worked tirelessly to achieving change in responsibilities for the provision of ECD services. .

The President signed the proclamation relating to the transfer of powers of the ECD function from the Minister of Social Development to the Minister of Basic Education.

To this end, the two departments have put in place various governance structures to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities. The departments also reached consensus on the scope of the change of function. The provisions of Chapter 5 (only in relation to ECD programs) and Chapter 6 of the Children’s Act 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005) have been identified for transfer. Based on the recommendation of the Office of Chief State Legal Counsel (OCSLA), we have drafted two proclamations. The first proclamation is signed by the president, while the second proclamation is signed by the prime ministers for the transfer of power and functions to the MEC responsible for basic education in each province.

The proclamations further specify that the implementation date for the change in ECD function will be April 1, 2022.

In preparation for the start of the implementation journey, the two departments jointly briefed members of the Portfolio Committee today, August 25, 2021, on the progress made regarding the ECD function change. The following activities will be undertaken:

ECD census:

The information collected through the census will be used to integrate ECD into the Education Management Information System (EMIS) of the DBEs and thus expand the offer of education support programs as well as the learning through play. Funded by the LEGO Foundation, the data and indicators will also establish a baseline to assess the quality of learning through play in South Africa. The census will take place from August to December 2021. All registered and unregistered ECD centers are strongly encouraged to participate, as this will expand access to quality learning for every South African child. The virtual launch of the ECD Census takes place on Thursday 26 August.

South African Early Childhood Index and Baseline Assessment

The South African Early Childhood Index is a nationally representative survey of early learning and development outcomes in children aged 4-5 years. The information obtained through the index will enable the DBE to report on Sustainable Development Goal 4.2.2. on the proportion of 4-year-olds who are developmentally on track. It will also allow the DBE to track the improvements we are making in the quality of ECD provision over the next five to ten years. The index will be accompanied by a series of contextual questionnaires that will help the DBE understand the context in terms of infrastructure, governance, skills, resources, nutrition and program implementation. Data collection for the Early Years Index has started and will continue until October 2021.

Stakeholder Engagement Dialogue Series:

In collaboration with the National Education Collaboration Trust, monthly stakeholder engagement sessions will be held on specific themes relating to sector challenges. The first event is being held on August 30, 2021 where the DBE will engage the industry on the envisioned service delivery model.

Joel C. Hicks