BRIDGE’s most recent National ECD CoP focused on discussion of how far the ECD sector has progressed since the 2015 policy was promulgated. We had two key government representatives sharing their perspectives on the rollout of the National Integrated ECD Policy of 2015, reflecting on both challenges and achievements.
The integrated policy illustrates the complexities of early childhood care and education: ECD by definition crosses a number of sectors, in that provision for the early years must engage with health and related support services as well as education. This is also reflected in the various human resource and professional streams that need to engage in ECD, as well as the various regulatory bodies that are involved. While the Department of Social Development (DSD) is the lead government department for implementing the policy, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) as well as a number of other departments have important roles to play.
Marie Louise Samuels (Director of ECD at the Department of Basic Education), Isabella Sekawana (Chief Director of ECD and Partial Care at the Department of Social Development) and Rex Meshack Rantsope Molefe (Director at Motheo Training Institute Trust, providing an NGO perspective) gave inputs on progress and challenges, providing a context for the CoP’s reflections.
Marie Louise explained the legislative framework and some of the institutional arrangements between different departments. She noted that these multi-perspectives mean that implementation challenges have to be worked out jointly between departments. She identified competing priorities and lack of collaboration as key challenges in implementation. There has however been some progress, especially in relation to reaching training targets for ECD practitioners in Birth to Four. The Birth to Four National Curriculum Framework has also been a major achievement for an area of ECD that has previously been neglected.
Isabella gave details of a number of structures and sub-committees that have been put in place in order to facilitate integration. She noted that the lack of credible data with cross validation across different departments is a key challenge for DSD as the lead implementer: this impedes progress in understanding how well the delivery of an integrated package of services is progressing. DSD is currently involved in a number of audits around both skills and structures in the sector in order to address some of the gaps identified.
The details of both presentations and the related discussions can be found in the ECD Meeting Highlights of the 14th of August here.