Challenges facing the early childhood development sector in South Africa

The majority of young children in South Africa are negatively impacted by a range of social and economic inequalities.

Apartheid and the resultant socio-economic inequalities have created a childhood of adversity for most black South African children in the country, including inadequate access to health care, education, social services and quality nutrition. This has undermined the development of our children.

There has been progress in South Africa since 1994, both quantitatively and qualitatively: there have been improvements in Grade R and ECD provision over the past eighteen years; the number of children in Grade R has trebled since 2001 and quality has improved; government expenditure on Grade R has increased three-fold since 2008/09; the number of ECD centres registered with the national department of Social Development has increased to 19,500 and there are currently approximately 836,000 children in a registered ECD centres, of which 488,000 (58%) received the ECD subsidy. 

Notwithstanding the progress made in ECD provision since 1994, children in South Africa still face significant challenges; with major gaps in infrastructure, teacher training, nutrition, ECD programming, institutional capacity and funding. It is fair to say that much work is still needed, if we want to improve the quality of children’s lives in South Africa and say with confidence that the needs of our youngest children are truly being met.

The above information was taken from Challenges facing the early childhood development sector in South Africa by Michaela Ashley-Cooper, Eric Atmore and Lauren van Niekerk, you can access a full copy of this here.