ECD function shift: compulsory changes and other important details parents need to know

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu at the function shift handover. Picture: Supplied

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu at the function shift handover. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 6, 2022


Last Friday the Department of Basic Education (DBE) took over the function of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres from the Department of Social Development.

In essence, the DBE has now taken over all responsibilities of ECDs.

Speaking at the handover, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said the latest employment data paints a picture that says unemployment has climbed to 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021.

“The migration of the ECD function from Social Development to Basic Education should serve as a means by which we definitively challenge this jobs market narrative,” she said.

The minister said they are hopeful that the move means that learners will be more exposed to reading and arithmetic.

Zulu said they will continue to work towards two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter Grade 1.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said early childhood education is the foundation for cognitive development by its very nature.

“The needs of infants and young children span across health, nutrition, social protection, psychosocial and cognitive development as specified in the Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy.

“Thus, the roll-out of new reimagined ECDs requires an integrated, cross-sectoral approach and plan across government departments. The ECD function shift will be doomed without involving civil society, the corporate sector, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations, and parents.

“This means the Department of Social Development, Health, Treasury and others will continue to play a significant role in our quest to strengthen early learning foundations,” she said.

Motshekga said their partnership with the Department of Social Development would continue beyond the function shift, and they had jointly put in place transitional arrangements to ensure a smooth transition.

Meanwhile, parents are warned to brace for these compulsory changes:

According to the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (B2-2022), if a parent or guardian prevents a learner from attending school, they could be fined or jailed for up to 12 months.

The bill further calls for school staff to be responsible and accountable for learners at school and to find out where a learner is if he or she is absent.

Furthermore, corporal punishment and initiation practices are prohibited.

The bill also calls for those on School Governing Body boards to declare their financial interests as well as those of their spouses, partners and immediate family members annually.

Teachers will not be allowed to conduct any business with the state and South African learners will only be allowed to undergo home-schooling if they are registered for such.