The fight for better Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres was taken to the streets on Tuesday November 28 when principals from across Khayelitsha marched to the Department of Social Development (DSD) district office in Cape Town.
More than 120 Khayelitsha Early Childhood Development Forum members demanded that the department consult with them when making policies that govern the ECDs. Dressed in black, the principals said they have made several attempts to communicate with the officials, including Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, but this has been in vain. A memorandum of demands was handed over to the department.
This included a call for the immediate change to regulations for norms and standards which state that facilities should be in a formal area. Speaking to Vukani, the crèche principals and managers said they wanted a response from the department as quickly as possible. The forum said it is tired of being marginalised when policies are formulated. It also demanded the formalisation of informal settlement educare centres and an increase in the subsidy from R15 to R18 for each child a day.The public relations officer of the forum, Thobeka Ratya, said Khayelitsha creches and educares are in a bad state and need to be improved by the department. “We have decided to approach them with a march. We have made numerous attempts to communicate with them but zilch.
“We demand that they communicate with us when they make policies. There are educares that are registered but are not getting funding. They need to get funds. Others have certificates but are not getting the funds. We also call on the department to fund those. The current meagre R15 subsidy per child per day is a disgrace. It should be up to R18 like other provinces,” she said.
She said they demand for all the informal settlement crèches to be recognised and be registered. She said she was positive that the department would respond to them positively.
Chairperson of the forum, Boniswa Mxakaza, said most principals have sleepless nights. “It might sound a bit odd but we have cases where some principals are hit by a stroke. Most are depressed because of the hard life that they have to go through.
“We are pleading with the DSD to do things fairly. Most of our people are in the informal settlements but it says such people cannot be recognised. There is no such. Where must we teach our children from, take them away from Khayelitsha? That is totally wrong,” she said.
Principal of Zakhele Educare,Nozuko Wasembethe which is based in the BM informal settlements, said because of strict measures forced on them they are losing children and carers. She said there was no way that there would not be crèches in the informal settlements. “We are now frustrated with the whole issue. I am not registered and there is no chance that I will register because I am in the informal settlements,” she told Vukani. Another principal from Enkanini informal settlements, Nosihle Nqoro of Lukhanyiso Educare Centre, accused the DSDof not caring about black children.
She said the government should take cognisance of the fact that townships are different from the affluent areas. “They demand things that cannot happen in ,our areas. Mind you we are in the informal settlements. Our children are born there not by their choice but by design,” she said.
The forum intends protesting until they get answers. Sihle Ngobese, spokesperson for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, said the department was happy that the forum took its time to bring such important issues to them. He said they have engaged each other constructively. “We had a very fruitful meeting with them on their concerns. We did not only promise to work with them, but we committed ourselves to work closely.
“We agreed with them to have a mass meeting next year to outline some of the issues. We will engage each other quarterly,” he said.