Thousands benefit from over 200 ECD centres

Pretoria – The newly launched Early Childhood Development (ECD) awareness campaign has started bearing fruit, with more than 200 new centres being registered with thousands of children receiving subsidies.

Launched in June this year by the Department of Social Development, the national ECD awareness campaign is focusing on the registration of ECD facilities in rural areas and the provision of subsidies to eligible children.

Addressing the media during a Social Protection and Community Development Cluster briefing on Tuesday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said as part of the campaign, 297 new ECD centres were registered in the first quarter, with 6 300 eligible children receiving subsidies.

Dlamini highlighted that one of the first steps to protect children against poverty is to guarantee access to education at an early age, which lays a solid foundation for economic and social development.

“One of the key elements for this campaign is to ensure equalization of subsidy for all eligible children in ECD centres, irrespective of where they live in the country,” Dlamini said, adding that the National Integrated Plan for ECD, which includes a new approach to the funding of Grade R, has also been completed.

Giving an update on the distribution of textbooks, which aims to improve the country’s quality of education, Dlamini said the procurement reforms for textbooks include the setting up of a national agency to handle all textbook procurement related matters.

She explained that provincial departments will mainly deal with the distribution of textbooks.

“We hope that with the new approach, we will eliminate current challenges, ensure competitive and transparent bidding processes, as well as ensure timely delivery of the exact quantities and at the scheduled time,” she said.

Meanwhile, 8.6 million learners are benefitting from the School Nutrition Programme, which has been extended to all secondary school learners in Quintile 3 in eight provinces. – BuaNews

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