SA Childcare CEO, Arno van der Merwe wants the Minister of Social Development to release grant payments so the centres can reopen.
“The subsidies are split into 3. There’s an administrative portion, a teaching portion as well as a food portion. According to the department, because the schools were closed they thought it well to pay only the administrative portion and not the other two,”
Van der Merwe said the whole ECD sector has been badly affected by the department’s failure to pay the subsidies.
“We’re really struggling to survive at this moment. The majority of all schools cannot open because of the subsidies not being paid. They rely heavily on the subsidies. for some ECD schools that’s the only income they get which is about R17,50 per child per day.”
He said many schools have been unable to open because they have not received subsidies and this has affected many children who rely on the ECDs to be a safe space.
According to van der Merwe, SA Childcare has been making some progress with its court case and it hopes for the Children’s Act to be the only governing authority.
“What we’re asking for is that the Children’s Act should be the only governing authority and not all the directions that’s coming from the department, which makes it impossible for most ECD centres to register. If you can’t register you can’t apply for subsidies so it’s a double whammy,”
Some ECD centres claim they are being intimidated and threatened with jail time. This is against the law, as centers were given permission to reopen as long as they follow the Covid-19 guidelines.
Van der Merwe said there is proof of the intimidation and he is unsure of why the department would go as far as intimidating ECD centres. He said he would like to see justice prevail once the court case is over and for all ECD centres to receive subsidies immediately so they can reopen.
“The future of South Africa and the future of our economy is at stake if we forget about the ECD sector, we really have a problem in this country,”
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé