The Department of Basic Education (DBE), Department of Social Development (DSD), and Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) briefed the Portfolio Committee on the new integrated approach to Early Childhood Development (ECD). The DPME noted that its work spanned all government departments and that this Diagnostic review on Early Childhood Development was the first ever commissioned in south Africa, and would be followed by further reports on the Grade R and academic years for 2014/15 and 2015/16. The DBE noted that this was the first evaluation it had conducted into the issues and noted that an inter-departmental steering committee had been formed. DBE defined early childhood development as a comprehensive approach to policies and programmes for children aged 0-9 years, with a specific focus on children from 0-4 years, and Grade R. For the first time, the research was done into the first 1 000 days of life, starting from conception, not birth, as several key consequences arose during this time, and interventions taken early were far more efficient and cost-effective than if done later. There had been progress in some areas but there were a number of areas in which more had to be done, including ensuring that medical practitioners were present for all births, that more support was given to good parenting, especially in the 0 to 2 category, and more investigation was needed into the centre subsidies. Recommendations included the need to build multi-sectoral support for an integrated approach, led by an authoritative body, more funding for ECD, better outreach to the poorest families, and multi-media campaigns.
Now that the Diagnostic Review had been done, and improvement plan was created by DBE and DMPE and this would be used to follow through on all recommendations. Components of this were outlined and described. From the Improvement Plan, an integrated Plan of Action would be drawn.
The Department of Social Development noted the activities impacting on ECD services in South Africa currently and noted that the “zero draft” now presented pulled together the findings into a preparatory document. DSD had 32 objectives, which were categorised into short, medium and long term priorities. Some were highlighted, including a review and harmonisation of legislation and policies, and municipal bylaws, relating to ECD, amendment of the Children’s Act on ECD, developing an integrated strategy for implementation of universal access for children from 0 to 4, and a new HR development plan for this sector, which would have to be costed. An integrated infrastructure policy was also needed, which would address the privately-run and NGO-led centres, and training would be required for practitioners. DSD also confirmed that more research needed to be done into the funding. The implications of this from the DBE standpoint were also presented. The budget was R335.2 million in the current year, rising to R424.7 million by 2015. The challenges were outlined, together with the action plans developed by DBE.
Members were pleased to hear of the integrated plans, but expressed their concerns that inter-sectoral collaboration had been weak in the past. They felt that better time frames were needed, and one Member asked why the matters had only been brought to the fore now if they were urgent, as it was expected that the departments’ own evaluation units would have identified the needs long ago. Members asked that the time frames be expressed monthly rather than yearly, and that a better distinction be made between short, medium and long term priorities. They questioned the legislative changes, in particular, and suggested that more departments, such as Health, Arts and Culture and Local Government needed to be involved. Members supported the need for recognition of prior learning, questioned how unregistered centres would be controlled, and expressed concern that existing centres should not be closed down at will, but the DBE assured them that they would be assisted to get in line with the standards. Members asked what curriculum had been followed to date, how this new one would differ, and suggested that all the community, not just parents, had to be brought on board. They wanted to know if the strategies catered for the children of foreign parents. Further clarity was sought on the division of responsibilities between the DBE and DSD, who was responsible for budgeting, and when the inter-departmental plans would be drawn and gazetted. It was suggested that an independent agency to ensure cooperation might best be situated in the Presidency. They asked about measurement of efficacy of Grade R, school-readiness testing, inclusive education plans, and expressed concern about the complexity of the work and the need not merely to “note” the plans, but for the plans to be driven forward. The impact of poverty and poor nutrition on the programmes had to be assessed, and it was also said that special measures and advocacy were needed to make people in the rural areas aware of the opportunities.
Introduction by Chairperson
The Chairperson noted that the meeting would be briefed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Department of Social Development (DSD), and Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), on an integrated approach to Early Childhood Development (ECD). This was the first report on the integrated approach, and a second was expected later. She noted that although both DBE and DSD had their own monitoring and evaluation units, the DPME was also present to provide further insight.
She noted the apologies from the Minister and Director General of the DBE, but acknowledged that Mr Mathanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director General: Curriculum, DBE, would be leading the delegation.
Introduction by DPME Outcomes Facilitator
Dr Tabo Mabogoane, Outcomes Facilitator, DPME, explained that the work of DPME spanned all government departments, and it did not merely oversee the work of any one department, although it was, in this project, working primarily with the DBE and DSD. The diagnostic review on Early Childhood Development was one of the first ever commissioned in South Africa. More education reports were to follow, including one on Grade R, and one covering the academic years of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The reports attempted to establish how South African schools had been performing, considering the government's expenditure on this sector. DBE and DSD would be presenting on the evaluations, and DPME would be available to answer any questions.
Department of Basic Education (DBE) briefing
Ms Marie-Louise Samuels, Director, Early Childhood Development, DBE, tabled the presentation (see attached Diagnostic Overview of Early Childhood Development). She confirmed that this was the first evaluation that the DBE had conducted and that it had learned a great deal in the process. An inter-departmental steering committee was made up of a number of other departments. At the same time as the diagnostic review was being done, a review of the National Integrated Plan (NIP) was also conducted.
DBE defined Early Childhood Development (ECD) as a comprehensive approach to policies and programmes for children aged 0-9 years, with a specific focus on children from 0-4 years, and Grade R. The report's key findings found that the first 1 000 days of a child's life had the greatest influence on their development. Because there were many negative influences that resulted in long-term consequences during a child's life, such as chronic disease and mental illness, it was of great importance to intervene during this window of time. The first 1 000 days was calculated from the point of conception, not birth, and were broken down, respectively, into 270 days for pregnancy, and two years of 365 days each.
Some of the long-term consequences of negative exposure included:
- Neglect, domestic violence, parental mental illness or substance use, increase risk of chronic disease, mental ill-health and social maladjustment
- Stunting before age 3 years, which was associated with less education, lower cognitive test scores and fewer grades passed, with less learning.
- Elements of psycho-social development, including poor growth and mental illness (results taken from famine studies)
- Adverse childhood experiences (ACE), which could lead to tobacco, alcohol and drug use, suicide risk, depression
- Toxic stress and stress responsivity, which in turn influenced the expectations around relationships and the way in which these were experienced.
She noted that intervention during the first 1000 days was much more efficient and cost-effective for the government, than if done a later stage. Children's resiliency to these factors made it more difficult to assess impact, and parents were especially influential in this area.
Ms Samuels noted the progress made in several areas, including access to facilities and number of children registered at birth, (see slide 9), but cautioned that there was still much progress to be made. For example, 9% of children were born with no medical professional present. The study also showed that DBE had done very little to support parenting, virtually nothing for the care of 0-2 year olds, and suggested that the per-child registered centre subsidy may not be working. She explained that the current subsidy should not be the only way to fund and support delivery in this area.
The main recommendations in the report were derived from good examples on the ground. She noted that some of these recommendations included the need to build multi-sectoral support for an integrated approach. This approach had to be led by an authoritative body with multi-stakeholder support. It would be necessary to increase the funding going to ECD, including funding to pay practitioners. The DBE and its partner departments should aim to reach the poorest children and families first. The offerings should be through home and community based programmes, and there should be multi-media campaigns to reinforce and support parenting.
Once the Diagnostic Review had been completed, the DBE, in partnership with the DPME, then created an Improvement Plan. This would be used by the DBE to ensure that the recommendations were followed through. The Improvement Plan outlined how the Department should proceed in order to provide an integrated programme of action.
The Integrated Multi-Sectoral Approach looked at the following components:
- Infrastructure development (housing, water, sanitation, electricity)
- Preparation for formal education (Grade R)
- Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)
- Health care (pregnancy, delivery, and childhood)
- Citizenship (birth registration)
- Social services (protection from abuse and neglect)
- Social security (through the Child Support Grant (CSG) and state support for poor families)
- Nutrition for pregnant women and young children
- Parent and family support
The DBE now needed to finalise the Improvement Plan, and develop an Integrated Programme of Action. The Inter-sectoral collaboration would have to take into account a joint vision, joint targets, joint budgets, and joint monitoring and evaluation.
Department of Social Development (DSD) presentation
Ms Margot Davies, Chief Director: Children, DSD, tabled her presentation (see attached document entitled An Integrated Early Childhood Development Programme of Action for Moving Ahead 2013-2018 (Zero Draft). There were three national activities which impacted on ECD services in South Africa from 2011-2012. These included The Review of the National Integrated Plan for Early Childhood Development, the ECD Diagnostic Review, and the ECD Conference Action Plan. The aim of all these was to review ECD services provisioning, coordination, and implementation for children from 0 to 4 years age in South Africa. The above processes were merged into a “zero draft” now being presented.
DSD had outlined 32 objectives or outcomes, and categorised them into short-term (April 2013 – March 2014), medium-term (April 2014 – March 2016), and long-term (April 2016 – March 2018) priorities. These were more fully described from slides 7 to 26. Particular points that were highlighted included:
-Objective 3: to Review [align and harmonise] all legislation, regulations, policy and municipal by-laws pertaining to Early Childhood Development. This was an ambitious effort that would pose a particular challenge, but the DSD had already met with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to make sure that it happened.
-Objective 5: Amendment of Children’s Act on ECD. This Act stated that ECD may be provisioned, but had no requirement that it must happen, and DSD wanted to change to the latter, which would be a crucial change in the legislation.
- Objective 6: to develop an Integrated Strategy for the implementation of universal access for children birth to school going age. This objective indicated a major shift in the vision behind ECD and a change of direction for the initiative. The DSD wanted to look at ensuring children have the best start at life, but this would require a lot of work and resources.
- Objective 9: Human Resource Development plan for the ECD Sector (Government and ECD service providers) to be developed and costed. This was very crucial, and there was strong consensus on this priority from all three processes.
- Objective19: To develop an integrated infrastructure policy for ECD. This was a crucial element that came out of the diagnostic report, because there were different policies on provisioning of infrastructure. DSD said that most ECD centres belonged to NGOs and in most instances were inadequate structures that were not specifically designed for ECD provisioning. Some of the centres also belonged to businesses or were privately owned, and this would make it very difficult to ensure alignment with the new policy.
Objective 21: To identify and conduct research on all existing funding models. The DSD did not yet have a complete funding model yet for home-based and community-based centres
Ms Davies reiterated that in order to achieve an integrated programme of action, commitment was required from all government departments, stakeholders and the broader ECD sector in realising the objectives of building a better future for the young children in South Africa.
Department of Basic Education presentation on implications for DBE of the new integrated plan,
Ms Samuels discussed the implications of the new integrated plan for DBE.
The first implication related to training. There would have to be registration of qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework, with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The training providers of the new qualification would need to be accredited, and this would involve the Quality Council, the Education Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA) and the fact that educators must be trained up to Level 4. Learners would need to be identified by the DSD. There would also have to be training of practitioners, and payment of a stipend, by the DBE and the Provincial Departments of Education. Finally, the Quality Council would be involved again in the assessment and award of certificates.
Ms Samuels then outlined the progress to date. DBE had data on all training conducted since 2009, and this appeared very sporadic (see slide 14). In some provinces it appeared that an excessive number of people have been through the training sessions, but these numbers included both shorter programmes and qualification-based programmes.
The DBE had identified some matters that it needed to attend to in the current financial year. Firstly, it would have to develop the national curriculum for children from birth to four years. It would need to finalise the Human Resource Development Plan for practitioners. It would also need to develop materials for parents and caregivers to stimulate young children.
The total budget allocation for all provinces was then presented, broken down by year. R335.2 million was estimated for 2013, rising to R424.7 million by 2015/16. Ms Samuels acknowledged the high costs associated with this programme, and emphasised that all stakeholders involved must feel comfortable with the new proposal.
There were a number of challenges but the DBE in many cases had already planned actions to remedy them. Firstly, there was a lack of reliable data, but DSD had already begun an audit to find the remaining information that was needed. There was lack of strategic leadership at the provincial level, but DSD and DBE planned on conducting interdepartmental meetings. As yet, there was no approved plan for interdepartmental collaboration, but DSD would gazette one, for comment and implementation. There was a need to create employment opportunities by drawing up an HRD plan for practitioners. DBE would be getting support from UNICEF to work on the finalisation of the HRD plan. As mentioned before, there was a need to raise the bar for the minimum teaching qualification to Level 4 for ECD practitioners. DBE, together with the ETDP SETA and other departments would establish Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Centres to assess competencies of ECD practitioners towards finalisation of Level 4. Finally, she noted that another challenge lay in the planning for the implementation of two years of pre-school education, as indicated in the National Development Plan. DBE, in consultation with other departments, would develop a concept document that would also set out the resource implications
Mathanzima Mweli, Acting Deputy Director General: Curriculum, DBE, revisited some of the more important points in Ms Samuels' presentation. Chief among them was providing strategic leadership in order for the integrated plan to work, and be properly implemented at the provincial level. Second was the issue of raising instructor qualifications, which remained a quality driver, from NQF Level 1 (which was equivalent to Grade 9), to NQF Level 4. This effort would put a lot of pressure on the system, but training was part of the DBE’s responsibility. The third quality driver was the public curriculum. The DBE had a new curriculum framework, which would be put out for public comment, and would be finalised this year. The conditions of service were being addressed quite aggressively by DBE at the moment. The last quality driver was primary learning and teaching materials. Grade R was a priority for upgraded textbooks.
Mr Mweli expressed that DBE was one of the few sectors subject to so much public scrutiny, but the attention was welcomed. DBE was one of the first institutions to open up to the public, and encouraged other institutions of government to do the same.
The Chairperson expressed her appreciation for all of the hard work that the DBE had been doing, but commented that time-frames were lacking. Many objectives were to be completed in the short-term, which was defined as 2013-2014, but she personally did not consider a year’s span to be “short-term”. The marking of the time-frames in years rather than months did not enable an easy tracking of the incremental progress over months. She felt that the current time-frames were too broad.
The Chairperson cited a discrepancy in the frameworks presented by DBE and DSD, saying also that there were no clear dates associated with each piece of legislation. She also sought clarity on what was meant by 'universal', and noticed the conspicuous absence of the involvement of NGOs. She also suggested that the report be re-read with all of the stakeholders, including Local Government and the Department of Health.
The Chairperson also commented on the raising of the practitioner qualification to Level 4. She agreed fully that there must be recognition of prior learning, especially in rural areas. There were many older teachers who never had the opportunity to obtain the proper qualifications, but had been doing this important work for many years.
She concluded by acknowledging the work and effort that went into the presentations, but said that there was still a need for far better presentations from the departments.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked why the department of Arts and Culture was not also included in this integrated effort.
Mr Mpontshane noted that one of the key findings was that 87% of children had access to safe drinking water, and he questioned whether this survey had covered the rural areas also, and if they were included in this figure.
Mr Mpontshane noted that a national curriculum was to be developed in 2013, and he therefore queried what curricula the training had to date been using.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) expressed great appreciation for the plans presented and agreed that any damage done to a child in the first years were critical. She expressed the hope that the integrated plan would be implemented correctly, and as a joint effort. She commended the integrated plan, but said that ideally this effort should have happened earlier, since what happened in the classroom was also a social issue. She asked if there would be any advocacy workshops or public meetings that would bring all parts of the community on board, and not just the parents.
Ms Mushwana referred to Outcome 4 of the Zero Draft and said that many schools were not registered with the ETDP SETA. She asked how the norms and standards would reach those schools.
Ms Mushwana asked what accounted for the vast disparities between the number of practitioners trained between the various provinces, and whether this had anything to do with the divergent populations.
Ms Mushwana noted that many immigrants, from other African countries in particular, ended up having children while they were in South Africa, who would gain a South African identity and status. She asked if the integrated framework included any checks, balances or mechanisms to include these populations as well.
The Chairperson agreed that Ms Mushwana's last question was of particular importance.
Ms A Lovemore (DA) wanted further clarification on the division of responsibilities. As she had previously understood it, DBE would be covering children from 5 years and up, whilst DSD would be covering those aged 0 to 4. However, the system just outlined seemed to have several areas of overlap. DBE seemed now to be going further than she had understood its original mandate to be.
Ms Lovemore noted that one of the challenges listed was the lack of an approved plan for inter-departmental cooperation, but she enquired whether this was the plan, and whether it was the same one that would be gazetted for comment. If so, she wanted to know when the formal presentations would happen.
Ms Lovemore also stated that, looking at the DPME Diagnostic Review, recommendation 1 suggested that South Africa should look into creating an independent agency to ensure inter-departmental cooperation and to effect the integrated ECD efforts. However, she had thought that DSD would be the lead agent. A few months ago, there was an advertisement in the newspaper, from the National Planning Commission, for an expert in early childhood development. She presumed that position would oversee monitoring compliance with the National Development Plan for ECD. If an independent agency was to be created to encourage inter-sectoral collaboration (and here, she wanted to comment that government was not so strong on inter-sectoral efforts), then she thought that it should be an agency based in the Office of the Presidency, because this could effect more change.
Ms Lovemore asked for an explanation on what was meant by “zero draft”.
Ms Lovemore asked how the DBE would measure the efficacy of Grade R, whether it was over one or two years. She also asked if any school-readiness tests would be done. She enquired how inclusive education would be accommodated in Grade R, for those students afflicted with foetal alcohol syndrome, dyslexia, and other learning difficulties.
Ms Lovemore concluded that if a plan was going out for comment, these reports could not simply be noted, because they raised too many concerns. For example, Slide 9 in the DSD presentation designated the amendment of the Children's Act as a high-priority, and something that must happen in the short term. Slide 8 also stated that all legislation must be reviewed. She believed that no amendments should be made to one Act before a full review of all applicable legislation was done. In addition, she thought that legislation was a medium-priority, not a high-priority. There were many priorities indicated in short-term, but the precursor steps were categorised in the medium or long-term.
Mr D Smiles (DA) echoed many of Ms Lovemore's concerns, and felt uncomfortable with the complexities and amount of work to be done. His concerns extended to all departments that had to undertake this huge task. His questions would be posed from the angle of the National Development Plan. He noted that there were nine high-priority objectives out of a total of 33, which indicated to him that there was not a full appreciation of the urgency of the whole NDP.
Mr Smiles noted that the National Regulatory Framework was meant to deliver services comprehensively and in a coordinated matter. However, he wanted to know if the relevant departments already had anything in place, or were likely to have it within the next week, in terms of a framework. He commented also that the departments had suggested that the Committee should “note” the recommendations, and it could do that, but he wanted to stress that there were concerns, and a need to take immediate action. Mr Smiles suggested that the departments must immediately commence with the legislative drafting.
Mr Smiles said that there was nothing to show that National Treasury or actuaries had been consulted, but when and if the departments decided to approach them, then he wondered if there was a funding model to offer; if so, he had not seen it. Considering the urgency of implementing the new ECD policies, he had concerns why the DBE and DSD own evaluation units had not previously come up with any models.
Mr Smiles was very concerned that monitoring and evaluation had been marked as a medium-priority. He understood that the departments could argue that there was no work to be evaluated at this stage, but suggested that M&E should rather be seen as an ongoing effort, and pointed out that there was no necessity to wait for a budget or framework, before putting any M&E strategies in place.
Ms J Ngubeni-Maluleka (ANC) asked who was responsible for the budget.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka said that most ECD centres for children under 5 years old were privately run, especially in rural areas, and people were using their own homes. She noted the point that subsidies to privately-run centres would be withheld until a proper structure was built, but asked who would help build these structures. She added that many women had been taking care of children for a long time, but their qualifications were not up to the required competencies, and wondered how long it might take for the goals n qualifications to be reached.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka was concerned that the data presented did not appear particularly reliable, particularly in relation to the numbers of children enrolled, and asked when the proper data would be made available.
Mr C Moni asked if the centres under discussion were childcare facilities or ECD facilities.
Mr Moni said that he wanted to know the consequences or impact of poverty in trying to reach the desired levels.
Mr Moni noted that poor maternal and child nutrition had massive consequences on children from 0-4 years old, and wondered how South Africa would, as a country, take responsibility for that.
Mr Moni said it was generally assumed that those in the rural areas were disconnected and very far away from media exposure, and asked what special measures or advocacy would be put in place so that they benefited to the same extent as those in the urban areas. In short, he wanted to know what he would tell his own constituents about ECD.
Mr Mweli responded firstly to the question on the respective roles of DBE and DSD. From birth to 4 was still mainly the responsibility of DSD. DBE had responsibility to provide stimulation programmes and training, from four years onward. DBE was fully responsible for Grade R. Of course the two departments were working closely together, and with various other departments, but, as correctly pointed out by one of the Members, there was a need to bring all of the important players together.
Ms Samuels was appreciative of the questions, which helped the DBE to formulate many ideas. The idea of having a plan similar to the Action Plan 2014 would really help, especially so that people outside of the departments could better understand the complexities they were working with.
She noted that the “zero draft” was really an attempt to put all thinking down on the table before creating Draft 1.
Ms Davies further explained that the draft report and time-frames were merely a first attempt, and just meant to give the committee an idea of what the departments have planned, but that the final proposal would be much more detailed and state very clearly when this would be done.
Ms Samuels addressed the question on training of practitioners and the curriculum. This was a complex area involving HR developments, curriculum and practitioners, and it must be remembered that not all practitioners were practising at official centres. The emphasis would be on building parental support. Up to now, there had only been a training curriculum, and no actual curriculum for the learners themselves, but the new curriculum would be significantly different to what was being done at the moment. For example, at the moment practitioners would often conduct an activity with the children, but with no specific goal in mind. In the future all activities would be constructed with a lesson or goal in mind. The new curriculum would provide the framework for learning right from birth through Grade R, and provides activities that people can do at home or at centres to support the children's development.
The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) centres, on which the DBE was working with ETDP SETA, would also be ground-breaking and a totally new area. DBE had data on 5 000 centres, but there were 18 000 that were registered. DBE would be trying to gather the information as quickly as possible.
Ms Samuels wanted to re-emphasise that the government had seriously neglected child development during the first 1 000 days in the past, and the Diagnostic Report supported the department's refocus in this area.
Ms Davies said that, as Mr Smiles had pointed out, integration of the various departments had been very difficult, and the presentations today showed just how many challenges there were regarding integration.
She commented on the questions around amendment to the legislation. For the Children's Act, what was being proposed would focus on the centres and address chapters 5 and 6 of that Act. The Children's Act did not cover the spectrum of ECD. The Diagnostic Report went much further, and looked at the child holistically. This was a watershed moment for ECD, because it was being moved from a centre-based understanding to a holistic understanding of child development.
Ms Samuels acknowledged that the role of NGOs in ECD had been absolutely pivotal to the way that departments delivered services, and without them, the DSD would not be able to do its work. However, she also explained that a government-driven model did not mean that the state would take over, but that policy should be better and the NGOs should be financed better, and that was what “universal access” implied. At the moment, the funding methodology was problematic. The amount spent per child had been raised from R4.50 per child per day, to R15 per child per day (beginning from 1 April 2013). However, there was a need to look at other funding models, like community-based, home-based, and mobile sites. The departments could not build a facility in every village and town, but the mobile units were an additional strategy to consider. Free State had an excellent model that deserved further attention and consideration.
She commented in relation to the integrated approach that although the Department of Arts and Culture, and also Sports and Recreation, had not been included as yet, it was appreciated that joint integration was crucial. She pointed out that DSD was one of the first departments to move into that direction.
She explained that advocacy workshops in rural areas had already begun, and that the Minister had planned to go into every rural area, to go in and discuss ECD with every municipality, bearing in mind that they may have a number of different by-laws.
There was only one funding model, and it was centre-based. Conditional registration was in place for those centres that could not yet meet the norms and standards of services at this time, so that they were still able to access funding, and they were being helped to work towards the new standards.
Ms Samuels acknowledged that the source of funding was crucial, and this went to the core of the whole integrated improvement plan. Without adequate funding, none of this would happen, but the departments could not get the funding they needed from the National Treasury until the amendments were effected. The integrated plan and comprehensive services were being costed at the moment, and until that was complete, the Minister could not apply for extra funding. For the moment, each department was doing an individual costing of the services for which it was individually responsible. In future, there would be a need for different funding models. It was also noted that at the moment, there was a divergence between DSD and DBE norms and standards which would have to be standardised.
Ms Samuels said, in answer to Ms Lovemore’s request for clarification of the responsibilities of each department, that this was only an overview and the details were still to be worked out. A new institutional arrangement was needed. This was a challenge, and it would depend for its success on the goodwill and passion of the people involved. The Gauteng model had been gazetted and operating for ten years. It was an independent body that operated under the Provincial Department of Education in Gauteng, and it was one possible model to copy. However, the functionality of working with other departments, like Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, was still needing research.
Ms Samuels conceded that unregistered facilities were one of the biggest challenges to the departments, but they could not be prevented from opening. There were many complexities with their operations. National Treasury had given funding to conduct an audit of unregistered facilities.
Mr Ian Goldman, Head of Evaluation and Research, DPME, stressed that it was important to recognise that the presentations were based on improvement plans, and were not meant to be supplying all of the answers or solutions for ECD. He reiterated the importance of the first 1000 days of a child's life, in particular the gestation period, and stressed that this had not previously been a focus of ECD.
In relation to the time frames, Mr Goldman made the point that some things could be changed very quickly and others would take more time. He also commented that there was an evaluation of a nutritional programmes due in August or September.
Mr Goldman also explained that budgeting for this type of work was very complex because of all the different ways children get affected, and not everything could be coordinated so that some things would have to be separated into different packages. As far as possible, reporting should be done holistically and comprehensively, but it should be managed and paid for in more manageable parts.
Mr Goldman referred to Mr Moni's question about the impact of poverty, and said that one of the most important findings was that poor children needed disproportionately higher attention, to make sure they were getting adequate access. Grade R findings reports would be coming out in a couple of months, and would show that quality and access for poor children had to be sufficient if ECD was to be the 'great leveler' it was meant to be.
He clarified that the data on numbers of children with access to water was taken from the annual Households Survey.
Ms Mushwana wanted to know how the departments planned to gather accurate statistical data, and suggested that inspection at the local levels should also be included. She suggested that the “real poor” were not in formal institutions, but in their own homes.
Ms Davies explained that inspection at the local level was crucial and that was exactly what the audit was meant to achieve; that point was simply left out of the presentation due to space restraints.
It was also noted that the issue of child miners was not included in the Children's Act, but was part of the by-laws of some municipalities.
Ms Lovemore asked for further clarification on the time-frames, if those set out in the “zero draft” document did not reflect the final time frames. She also wanted to know by when Draft 1 was expected, and by when the final plan, with the final time-frames that were actual commitments, would be gazetted for comment.
Ms Davies explained that the Minister had asked for the integrated programmes to be completed to take to Cabinet, but the department's response was that more time was needed for other processes to be completed first. There had been some delays. The policy needed to be completed by the end of March 2014 as set out in the Annual Performance Plan, but the gazetting would have to take place after being presented to Parliament. The Minister was leading the process but did not own the plan, because it was jointly owned by all involved departments.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka asked which came first in the privately-run centres - registration, or subsidy. She was specifically referring to those centres under threat because they did not have proper infrastructure.
Ms Davies assured Members that if a centre was registered on a conditional basis, it would not simply be closed, and the department would work closely with the centres to get them up to standard.
Ms Ngubeni-Maluleka inquired where pregnant women were supposed to find nutritious food.
Ms Davies said that maternal health plans were in place, but they had only just started, and they would need to be included in the comprehensive package.
Mr Mweli shared his view that sectoral responsibilities in government did not seem to have a successful history. What the National Development Plan was attempting to do was move forward work that had been started by cluster arrangements, to get people to work together. Departments were very inward-looking and individualistic in the way they carry out their business, but the presentation showed the many areas for cooperation.
Potential successes were not purely derived from the education sector, but also by creating an oversight structure. These presentations demonstrated the attempts to give full expression to Chapter 9 of the NDP.
The Chairperson hoped that at the next meeting on these issues, the three departments would be working with Draft 1 to further clarify these very complex matters. The Committee had a good understanding of what took place at the basic education level, since many members were former teachers. She commented that she would like to see the Departments of Health, Correctional Services, Women, Children and People with Disabilities and civil society organisations brought into future discussions. She also suggested that the Free State and the Western Cape had some excellent models that should be looked into.
The meeting was adjourned.
- An Overview of Lessons Learned from Implementation of National Integrated Plan for Early Childhood
- Diagnostic Overview of Early Childhood Development presentation
- An Overview of the Integrated Programme of Action for Early Childhood Development presentation
- An Integrated Early Childhood Development Programme of Action for Moving Ahead 2013-2018 (Zero Draft)
- Diagnostic Overview of Early Childhood Development
- National Evaluation Policy Framework
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting