On Friday 1 April 2022, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu officially handed over the function of the ECD to the Department of Basic Education (DBE). This was a move more than three years in the making.
During his 2019 State Of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the move would ensure that children access compulsory ECD for two years before entering grade 1.
An additional priority that the migration hopes to achieve is to improve reading comprehension in the first years of school.
DBE spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga explained that in many parts of the world ECD function falls under the education department. This was not the case in South Africa before April 2022.
He said, “Studies were conducted and it was found that indeed this function needed to be located with education for alignment and for streamlining the services that are required to build and create a good foundation for our children as they start learning”.
Mhlanga added that the DBE is not only receiving the function but also the people who worked in the sector under the department of social development.
He said, “It comes with the resources, the people, the budget, the function the capacity and resources that have been allocated to this function so that's what we are receiving so we are basically moving on the basis of what was already there”.
The migration of the function of ECD also sees a change in who distributes the subsidies to ECD centres. The payment of subsidies will also now be the responsibility of the DBE.
“We urge everyone who is operating an ECD centre to please register it because that's the other challenge that we are facing, that we have many ECD centres that are operating without registration and if you don't register it means that you are not going to benefit from the services that government has put together for you” concluded Mhlanga.