There is strong international evidence that sufficient investment in early childhood development (ECD) can significantly improve national educational, health, social and economic outcomes. This is the time when the building blocks for one’s entire life course are being laid down, and the rate of physical and mental development is at its highest.Heckman J (2006). Skill formation and the economics of investing in disadvantaged children. Science, 30, 1900-1902 Without this solid foundation, children start to fall behind and additional investment is then needed to help them catch-up.
In South Africa, there are roughly five million children under five years of age. Unless things change, half of these children will never be exposed to any form of out-of-home learning experience.Republic of South Africa. National Diagnostic Review on ECD. Department of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, 2012 Therein lies a massive opportunity if we defy these predictions and give every child the benefit of quality early childhood development.
The irony is just how simple the inputs are – love, food, safety and stimulation – that should be non-negotiables for every child!
Of course, ECD is not a lucky charm that protects children for life – regardless of future experience or circumstance. Poor schooling and other negative factors can still throw children off track who had previously benefited from ECD. But, children who have the intellectual and physical benefit of ECD are able to make full use of subsequent investments in their development. On the other hand, children who don’t access this opportunity constitute a greater economic burden on the State in later life.Caspi A, Houts R et al. Nature Human Behaviour 1, 0005 (2016) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-016-0005
|⇧1||Heckman J (2006). Skill formation and the economics of investing in disadvantaged children. Science, 30, 1900-1902|
|⇧2||Republic of South Africa. National Diagnostic Review on ECD. Department of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, 2012|
|⇧3||Caspi A, Houts R et al. Nature Human Behaviour 1, 0005 (2016) | DOI: 10.1038/s41562-016-0005|
From 2017-2021 we, together with Government, will build platforms of quality ECD at scale by:
Click here to read how we plan to do it.
|Improve access to, and use of, data for planning and monitoring.||District-based Knowledge, Information and Data Solutions (KIDS) initiative of Ilifa labantwana.|
|Support national planning for financing and human resources to deliver early learning at scale.||Financial and human resource analysis and planning with national and provincial Treasuries and Departments of Social Development.|
|Design and make available ECD management tools to support quality delivery and enhance systems for scale.||Further develop and promote Ilifa Labantwana toolkits.|
|Demonstrate a programme mechanism for rapid scale-up of quality services.||Support for social franchise mechanisms like SmartStart and EarlyBird educare@work (Innovation Edge).|
|Generate greater and more informed demand for early learning services.||Public communication and community-based advocacy programmes, through the Love, Play, Talk campaign.|
|Innovate solutions to specific early learning challenges.||Support for the Innovation Edge.|