Ricochet News

Only 53 700 out of 870 000 Eastern Cape pre-schoolers enrolled at ECD centres

Apr 11, 2018
Only 53 700 out of 870 000 Eastern Cape pre-schoolers enrolled at ECD centres

Only 53 700 out of 870 900 pre-schoolers attend Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in the Eastern Cape, according to the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development.

"An entire generation of children is being deprived of a proper foundation phase-education before they even get to 'big' school," described Kobus Botha (MPL), the DA's Eastern Cape MEC for Social Development. 

"The DA believes that early childhood education is crucial in preparing children for school by building early learning foundations and minimising the wastage associated with ill-prepared learners who fail at school."

In a reply to a legislature question he asked the Eastern Cape MEC for Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi, revealed that the poorest and most rural areas of the province suffered shocking figures when it came to three- to-five-year-olds attending ECD centres:

  • OR Tambo District: only 8 196 attending, 211 086 not attending;
  • Alfred Nzo District: only 6 964 attending, 127 673 not attending; and
  • Chris Hani District: only 9 324 attending, 105 798 not attending.

According to MEC Sihlwayi, reasons for the non-attendance varied from a lack of ECD centres, children with disabilities not having access to such centres, distances and parent simply being too poor to afford the fees. 

For the reply, click here:

"A recent report by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls) found that 80% of Grade 4 pupils in South Africa could not read for meaning," said Botha.

"Last month, Education MEC Mandla Makupula alluded to a 'Grade 1 crisis'.

"A performance assessment showed that in 2016, the province had the highest Grade 1 failure rate of 20% -- or one out of every five children. The province also continues to have the lowest matric pass rate in the country."

He said that there was need for improved collaboration between the Departments of Basic Education and Social Development to develop a national network of early childhood education centres.

"The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become. That is why the need to invest in young children is so important, so as to maximize their future well-being," Botha said.

"Clearly, the top-heavy bureaucracies within the provincial Departments of Education (who receives the bulk of the provincial budget) and that of Social Development are swallowing money that must be used more effectively."