Give every child the benefit of early childhood development


(ECD resource hub)

Umncedi connects constituents and shares information and resources. By doing this, it helps support a national early childhood development (ECD) community, which catalyses an improvement of young children’s lives and learning.

The disconnect

This explains why the project exists

Income inequality perpetuates poverty and limits life opportunities. All South African children are born with immense potential for flourishing, however, early experiences will enhance or inhibit their development, affecting future educational outcomes and limiting career opportunities. 

The first 1 000 days and early childhood are the periods of greatest brain development. Access to high-quality care and early learning stimulation for young children are among the greatest opportunities for breaking intergenerational cycles of poverty. Despite this: 

  • 60% of the 42 420 early learning programmes in South Africa are unregistered and the majority are unsubsidised by the government1ECD Census 2021 – Summary of Key Results, Department of Basic Education. Accessed here: . Many households in low-resource communities are struggling to pay fees to Early Learning Programmes (ELPs) considering that more than half of the country’s population lives in poverty.
  • ECD practitioners often receive low levels of remuneration and have limited job security. In addition, they may not have high levels of ECD-related qualifications, which limits programme quality. 
  • Without subsidies, ELPs struggle to deliver high-quality programmes.

Therefore, without sufficient and predictable income, ELPs cannot provide the quality of care and learning that can break intergenerational cycles of poverty in South Africa. 


The majority of South Africans are stuck in an inequality trap with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Most are stuck in intergenerational loops of exclusion with few chances to escape. Breaking this cycle requires a fundamental change in life trajectories, starting in the womb.

Think of a Möbius strip – just one twist in the circle allows you to trace a completely different pattern. Instead of being stuck on the inside of a loop, you emerge on the outside. In the same way, escaping the inequality trap requires a fundamental twist to set South Africa on a new path.

The twist in thinking

This explains how the project approaches problems

The majority of early learning programmes (67%) do not receive the ECD subsidy, which is a critical step in ensuring programme quality and sustainability2ECD Census 2021 – Summary of Key Results, Department of Basic Education. Accessed here:

Both the state and the donor community will need to collaborate in supporting registration efforts, however, there is currently little clarity on how donors and the state can work collaboratively. Furthermore, there are opportunities to use information technology to build an increasingly informed body of ECD practitioners. 

ELPs are historically geographically isolated and institutionally disconnected. Practitioners may lack information on how to effectively run an ELP, how to get registered, where to access training and how to find appropriate resources. While there are a large number of existing organisations that support practitioners, they are typically focused on practitioners in a specific geographic catchment area. 

Umncedi intends to curate and disseminate relevant information for all ECD practitioners across the country, mobilising resources to improve the quality of delivery of early learning. This will be primarily targeted at unregistered and conditionally registered ELPs, with the aim of connecting existing contributions from resource and training organisations, ECD forums and other sectoral players.

The trajectory change

This explains what the project is doing to make a difference

Umncedi will increase ECD programme access to relevant information to support registration and quality programmes. It will also improve support for ECD registration and programme sustainability. This can be achieved through the following activities:

  1. Support existing and new philanthropic and corporate social investment in ECD by describing existing barriers to quality and sustainability for early learning programmes, and demonstrating opportunities for increased investment.

  2. Map resource and training organisations who support early learning programmes. Support the distribution of materials for early learning programmes, and ensure that programmes are supported to use these materials.

  3. Connect early learning programmes (ELPs) to relevant ECD content and establish supportive resource sharing communities. Map over 800 early learning programme forums, and establish communication channels to communicate sector news and relevant resources with ECD forums and ECD principals.

Trying to change life trajectories is ambitious and profound. It requires us to radically influence the lives of individuals and to be part of changing the circumstances in which they live.

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