Early Childhood Development (ECD) workers have slammed Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s decision to employ 36 000 youth compliance monitors for ECD programmes.

Zulu announced on 30 July that R1.3 billion out of the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus package would be allocated towards youth employment.

In the video below, Lindiwe Zulu talks about the reopening of ECD centres:

ECD workers have labelled this decision as both deeply disappointing and irrational.

They say this decision puts 176 000 jobs at risk.

“176 000 direct ECD workforce jobs are at risk as a result of the pandemic and the national lockdown, with over 30 000 ECD centres set to close their doors permanently. In addition, over 900 000 children will be affected by the closure of these centres and one million other jobs that depend on access to childcare will be affected indirectly,” the workers said in a statement.

They argue that the R1.3 billion has the potential to sustain over 176 000 ECD jobs.

Claudia, an ECD practitioner from Kraaifontein, says the Social Development Department has not paid them for five months loss of income.

“I understand the need to employ especially our youth, but this is a smack in our faces. This is going to be inexperienced youth people monitoring us. If they paid us for the past five months of loss of income, that would make more sense. Suddenly, they have money, but when we begged for help, they had no money. They could have supported us and kept centres open and people in jobs.”

Government subsidy

The ECD workers say they have been trying to get financial support from Social Development in order to ensure continuity. However, they say most ECD programmes have not received any subsidy from government.

They have since asked for Social Development to redirect this money to support ECD Continuity Grants that will flow directly to the ECD workforce for six months.

“We all want the ECD sector to survive and thrive. The future of our young children depends on them. We want all of our young children to learn, develop and be cared for in a safe, stimulating ECD programme with adequate and appropriate nutrition, health and safety standards. We want sufficient support for the people (mostly marginalised women) and early learning spaces who are developing the future generation and the future of our country. The ECD Continuity Grant is the best way we can move towards achieving this vision.”

Impact of lockdown on ECD centres: