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DSD Shines Light on Early Childhood Development Centres

July 8, 2020

Department of Social Development

The social development minister, Lindiwe Zulu, recently reminded all operators of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and partial care facilities across South Africa to complete the online self-assessment exercise.

In a statement, the social development department declared that the self-assessment exercise is critical in determining the sector’s state of readiness to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

All ECD centres and partial care facilities were closed in March following president Ramaphosa’s declaration of the state of national disaster as part of the national measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“As we prepare to reopen the sector which we will announce in due course through directives as per the requirements of the Disaster Management Act, it is critical that we ensure that we have taken all necessary precautionary and control measures to uphold the best interest of our children. The self-assessment is critical in assisting the Department to assess the sector’s COVID-19 response plan and the state of readiness. We know the important role that the sector plays in our country’s child protection system and its contribution to children’s emotional and cognitive development”, said Minister Zulu.

Upon submission of the self-assessment, the department will verify the information to determine the centre’s state of readiness.

“As more and more parents/caregivers return to work, we want them to have the confidence that we have done everything possible to keep our children and staff at ECD centres and partial care facilities safe during this difficult time. We cannot compromise the health and safety of our children”, added minister Zulu.

Minister Zulu reiterated that ECD centres and partial care facilities will remain closed until further notice.

Directives pertaining to the reopening of early childhood development programmes and partial care facilities will be published after all requirements to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 have been taken into consideration.

Meanwhile, in another statement, the minister has welcomed the judgment delivered by the Gauteng Division of the High Court on 6 July 2020 regarding the re-opening of early childhood development programmes.

The department emphasized that the re-opening of ECD centres are still subject to meeting appropriate and/or prescribed safety measures.

“The responsibility and the establishment of the measures and procedures, including physical, material and programmatic requirements, as well as the requirements for the return, orientation and/or training of the staff to prepare for re-opening and the maintenances of these measures rests with the management of the ECD centres. The Department will continue to work closely with ECDs to ensure that they are ready to open.”