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Political party positions and unlocking Early Childhood Development (ECD) for every child

Investing in young children is the most effective action countries can take to break cycles of inter-generational poverty and inequality. This means ensuring children have access to quality early learning programmes across the board. But this is lacking in our country where an estimated 1.5 million children don’t have access to the type of cognitive stimulation that would prepare them for future learning and earning. What are political parties doing to change this? We reviewed 13 party positions to find out their stance on improving the lives of South Africa’s children.

The ANC pledges universal access to quality ECD by 2030, aiming to lay the foundation for a brighter future. Resonating with the IFP’s vision for prioritising the nationwide development and registration of state ECD centres. The ACDP also commits to making ECD facilities available in all areas, emphasising widespread accessibility to kickstart a child’s educational journey. While Action-SA plans to expand investment into ECD, aiming to increase the scope of municipal ECD offerings. GOOD assures that quality ECD education will be accessible, reflecting the party’s commitment to laying a strong foundation for every child’s future. This commitment aligns with DGMT’s call for increased public investment in the sector and echoes DGMT’s call for broader access to ECD facilities.

The EFF manifesto pledges free access to ECD education with a standardised curriculum. The party also plans to train 40 000 ECD practitioners, aligning with DGMT’s call for a state-led approach to early childhood education. It is similar to RISE Mzansi comprehensive approach, committing to providing childcare and ECD facilities in every community. The fledgling party also emphasises investment in training ECD practitioners. The ATM also places it as one of its primary pillars of hope, vowing to prioritise access to ECD facilities for children aged 0-7. These three policies closely align with DGMT’s call for prioritising and expanding access to ECD.

While the DA’s manifesto doesn’t explicitly refer to ECD, the party commits to improving access and quality in the Grade R year, ensuring every child is school-ready by Grade 1. The FF+ also makes no direct reference to ECD but pledges to provide more state funding for NGOs focusing on children. While not explicit, this financial commitment aligns with DGMT’s call for increased public investment in the sector.

The UDM, AL-Jama-Ah and BOSA’s manifestos don’t explicitly mention ECD, making their stance unclear or open to interpretation.

It’s clear that children are our common cause. The broad commitment to providing quality ECD reflects a shared vision for laying a strong foundation for the future of every child in South Africa. The upcoming elections have the potential to shape the trajectory of ECD and, subsequently, the growth and well-being of the nation’s youngest citizens. Our children can’t vote yet their well-being and outcomes will shape our country’s future.

To learn more about our work to improve ECD and affect policy change, please read two policy briefs developed by DGMT’s new initiative, Change Ideas.

The Essential Package for Early Childhood Development

In this brief, we look at why an “Essential Package” of ECD services is needed to close the glaring gaps in ECD delivery.

Download brief

Closing the early learning gap for 3-5-year-olds

This brief explores universal access to quality early childhood development (ECD) at scale and how it can change the status quo and improve life trajectories.

Download brief

Visit our Create Change page below to learn what you can do, because big or small, our actions add up and we can create change together.

DGMT has developed some learning briefs throughout the years. Click on the links below to read them.

The case for supporting pregnant women.

Learn more

Proactive interventions to build stronger learning foundations.

Learn more

The value of accelerated learning programmes.

Learn more

Ilifa Labantwana’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more

Breaking down the barriers to quality ECD.

Learn more

Embrace: Messages for Mothers

Learn more

Three strategic insights that have shaped the mission of Embrace.

Learn more
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