South Africa: ECD Centres Critical to Nurturing SA’s Future Leaders

President Cyril Ramaphosa says Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres play a critical role in laying solid foundations for South Africa’s future leaders.

The President was addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter just days after opening the Little Flower ECD centre in Bizana, in the Eastern Cape.

The President emphasised that children in these centres must be nurtured.

“The young children in these centres are the next generation of South Africans who must be able to live up to their full potential as responsible, capable and outstanding citizens.

“They must be able to pursue their dreams so that we all may achieve our shared dream of a free, prosperous and happy nation,” he said.

The President added that although government does what it can to assist ECD centres, society also has a role to play in the development of South Africa’s youngest citizens.

“Preparing our youngest citizens with the tools they need to succeed in life is a responsibility we must collectively shoulder. We must continue to do all we can, as government, the private sector and development organisations, to support early childhood development.

“With the many valuable services it provides, whether it is educating our children, providing childcare for working parents or creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, ECD makes a huge contribution to the achievement of many of our developmental goals,” he said.

The President emphasised that ECD centres also contribute immensely to the upliftment of society.

“Early childhood development centres don’t just prepare our country’s youngest citizens to succeed in school; they are also an important source of entrepreneurship and job creation. These centres are an important part of the care economy. They sustain livelihoods, especially for women, which contributes to job creation in many communities.

“Since the care economy is mainly driven by women, such support goes a long way towards helping women, especially in disadvantaged communities, to become financially secure and independent,” he said.

President Ramaphosa highlighted that government has recognised the importance of ECD centres and taken steps to ensure that these centres are given the tools needed to succeed.

“As government, we have taken up the task to improve the standards of care and make resources available for ECD centres to run suitable activities for young children to prepare them for formal education. In April this year, we completed the move of the ECD function from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education.

“This is to link early childhood development to the formal school curriculum and to provide training, education and development to staff in ECD centres around the country,” he said.

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