Pretoria – As part of Child Protection Week activities, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini will officially launch the national Early Childhood Development (ECD) awareness campaign in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga.
The campaign, to be launched on 1 June 2011, seeks to educate and inform parents, primary caregivers and communities on the importance of quality early learning for children.
It also aims to increase the number of registered ECD centres and the number of children benefiting from their services; 16 250 ECD centres are currently registered and more than 700 000 children benefit from ECD services.
Speaking ahead of the campaign launch, Dlamini said ECD has a major role to play in terms of child protection.
“Improving the quality of education is the top priority of our government and it is for this reason that we strongly support early learning and giving our children the best start in life.
“Research has shown that the first five years of a child’s life shapes their future and that early learning through ECD gives children opportunities to reach their health, learning and social development potential,” said Dlamini.
She said the department wants every young child in the country to have a bright future and wants all ECD centres to comply with the Children’s Act and to offer quality early education and proper care to all children, whether in urban or rural areas.
“By launching this campaign, we want all children to be afforded equal opportunities,” Dlamini said, noting that ECD centres also provide safe places where children can be happy, thus becoming an effective child protection programme.
The campaign further seeks to address the high number of unregistered centres. In terms of the Children’s Act, the Department of Social Development is responsible for the registration of places of care or ECD sites, where more than six children are cared for away from their parents or caregivers.
To encourage more ECD centres to comply with legislative requirements, the minister will on the day hand over registration letters and learning material to the centres that have been assessed by the provincial department.
Other key government departments in the delivery of ECD services include the Departments of Health and Basic Education as well as Local Government.
During the event, Dlamini will be accompanied by Mpumalanga MEC for Health and Social Development, Dikeledi Mahlangu, senior government officials and local leaders of the Nkangala District Municipality. – BuaNews