The Cape Winelands District’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Summit took place in Worcester on Tuesday, 18 April 2023 in partnership with Western Cape Education: Cape Winelands District and brought together distinguished speakers and role players in the ECD sector. The summit’s objective was to create an ECD sector where our children, in other words the future South African citizens, will have the opportunity to attend and ECD facility that is able to develop their full cognitive, emotional, social, and physical potential.
The need to bring all role players in the ECD sector together was identified through a public participation process. In her opening address, Executive Mayor Ald (Dr) Elna von Schlicht explained, “CWDM realizes that leveraging the innate love of learning in the early years of a child’s life through early childhood education helps to create a lifelong attitude of learning with far-reaching impacts into the community and economy. That is why the CWDM is committed to assist the ECD sector and in doing so invest in our future citizens.”
Under the theme, ‘Children are our biggest asset. It starts with ECD” role players including ECD forums and centres, local municipalities and government organizations joined forces to discuss the realities and challenges faced by ECDs. Speakers included Professor Eric Atmore, Linda Biersteker and Dr Badroneesa Govender, all of whom are specialists in the ECD sector, provided an overview of the state of ECD from a global, national, provincial, and local perspective.
In the Cape Winelands district, there are currently 794 ECD centres of which only 254 facilities are registered. This statistic indicates the biggest barrier faced by many ECDs, is the challenge of obtaining full registration. The attendees worked together to find realistic and practical, solutions to common challenges which include nutrition, funding and training for practitioners.
Although, supporting ECD is an unmandated function of the CWDM, in the past five years support has been provided through the distribution of educational toolkits, fireproof paint, funding through our Grant-in aid programme and First Aid Level 1-3 training to ECD staff.
The Vernon Philander Foundation identified the need of nutritional support at ECDs in the Cape Winelands and are joining hands with the municipality to supply their instant maize meal ‘Reach the Peak’ to identified ECDs in the district. “This nutritious porridge which is rich in fibre and vitamins was specifically developed with growing children in mind and provides them with all the nutrition value they need in one bowl,” explained Vernon Philander, former South African international cricketer.
The government plays a central role in ECD, with local, provincial, and national levels working together in unison with the development of the future nation as the main objective. However, for sustainability and success, a joint effort between parents, the community, and government is imperative. The CWDM hopes that by creating a platform where all stakeholders have been brought together, the ECD sector can escalate upwards for the benefit of our children.