CONFERENCE ANNOUNCED: ‘Building a High Quality ECD research and practice in South Africa: Birth to Grade R’

The South African Research Association for Early Childhood Education (SARAECE), in partnership with CECD, are proud to announce their 4th National conference, ‘Building a High Quality ECD research and practice in South Africa: Birth to Grade R’

The conference will take place in July 2021 as a virtual conference, or in Cape Town, depending on Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. More details will follow at a later stage.

Please find here the save the date together with the call for conference papers:

For more information about the conference please contact Arlene Diedericks on +27 (0)21 680 1500 or +27 (0)21 680 1582 or email

CECD launches new publication – ‘Thought Leaders on Early Childhood Development in South Africa’

We have just launched our new publication entitled, ‘Thought Leaders on Early Childhood Development in South Africa’.  This timely collection of thought-provoking essays, compiled and edited by a South African early childhood development team, led by our Director, Professor Eric Atmore, explores the concerns, opinions, and calls-for-action of thought leaders in the ECD sector in South Africa.

This book has been produced at a time when South Africa is at a crossroads. With the foundation of early education, care and nutrition at risk, the future of young children in this country is in the balance. Well-planned and decisive action is urgently required by government, the NPO sector, ECD programme providers, training organisations, donors, communities, and families – the future of South Africa’s economy demands it.

You can read the full publication here:

If you would like a hard copy of this publication, at no cost to you, please call Boniswa on 0216832420 and provider her with you name, name of organisation (if applicable) and your address.

Corona Virus, COVID-19 Information

During this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to do our part to keep everyone safe in South Africa.

Please visit our Corvid-19 resources Webpage here:

For more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, please visit

Our Director, Professor Eric Atmore’s PhD Thesis!

“An Interpretive Analysis of the Early Childhood Development Policy Trajectory in Post-apartheid South Africa” – Our Director, Professor Eric Atmore’s PhD Thesis.

This year, our Director, Prof Eric Atmore, made news headlines (herehere, and here) when he graduated with his PhD from Stellenbosch University. His dissertation was entitled, “An Interpretive Analysis of the Early Childhood Development Policy Trajectory in Post-apartheid South Africa” and provides new insights into how the ECD policy trajectory shaped the evolution of ECD in post-apartheid South Africa during a period of unprecedented social, political, economic and education transformation.

To view an electronic copy of the full dissertation, click here.

CECD to host ‘Young Leaders for Children’ Conference

The Centre for Early Childhood Development announces its ‘Young Leaders for Children’ Conference in Cape Town from 01 – 03 October 2019.

Please follow this link to see the conference call, which includes a call for conference presentations, abstract submissions for our ‘Khawuleza’ (Pecha Kucha-style) event, as well as conference registration details: Conference Call.

To register and for more information visit our ‘Young Leaders for Children’ Conference website on

We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to our conference.

Please feel free to share this information with your networks.

Ramaphosa’s SONA 2019 ECD comments

Last month we watched the SONA address and were happy with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s comments on ECD; the time to invest in the early education of South Africa’s children is now. Work with us as we continue to put young children first by ensuring quality early childhood development for our country’s youngest citizens… READ MORE.

Meet Nontembiso – CECD’s dedicated Family Outreach worker

The Family Outreach Programme is a successful programme developed by the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) which focuses on empowering families and improving childcare in the home environment – which is recognised as the primary place of learning for young children, with parents being the first teachers. 70% of children in South Africa are not in any form of ECD provision. Nontembiso identifies and recruits families who need her support by going door-to-door in the Barcelona community. Nontembiso provides parents with a package of services including weekly home-visits, parent education workshops on important childcare topics, and much-needed food parcels. She also supports parents to set up informal playgroups for young children in the community. The aim is to provide children with the head-start they need to succeed in formal schooling and later in life.

Nontembiso is passionate about making a change in the community, starting with Barcelona’s most vulnerable residents. She is hard-working, compassionate, big-hearted, and provides love, education and care to all the children and caregivers with whom she works… READ MORE.

Celebrating Madiba’s Life and Legacy

In celebration of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday this year, the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), together with the Cape Town Museum of Childhood, developed a Madiba and Children Book, which was officially launched on Mandela Day 2018.

The Madiba and Children Book includes a unique collection of photographs and stories from people who met Madiba as a child. These honest stories capture the essence of Madiba’s character: a caring, patient man who loved people and was extremely fond of children. In addition to these inspiring stories, the book presents artworks from almost 100 children from various schools across the Western Cape. A wonderful collection of photographs of Madiba interacting with children, from the well-acclaimed photographer, Benny Gool, is also presented in the book. Nelson Mandela was a champion for children and had a huge impact on the lives of millions of children around the country. With this book we honour Madiba’s legacy and his love for children.

On 18 July 2018, on what would have been Madiba’s 100th birthday, the Madiba and Children Book was launched with an event of over 200 people, including the children from the participating schools, the individuals whose stories are told in the book and other important guests. Transport for the majority of the children and parents, was sponsored by Cape Town Shuttle Services. The event had live music and entertainment, speeches and messgaes from young children, and a panel discussion where a selection of individuals from the book shared their childhood memories about Madiba.

The Madiba and Children Book was developed by Bridget Kahts and Professor Eric Atmore from the Centre for Early Childhood Development. If you would like a copy of this book, please email or phone 021 6832420.

Research on Quality ECD Centres now available

This research study explores the views of stakeholders in the early childhood development (ECD) sector on the essential components that contribute towards the making of quality ECD centres. ECD is vitally important in the South African context; however access and quality of ECD services is a significant challenge. While accessibility to ECD services is progressively being realised for young children; the quality of these services remains a challenge. This study was carried out with a sample of fifteen principals of effective ECD centres in the Western Cape, South Africa… READ MORE.

To read the full research article, click here:
Research conducted by Bridget Kahts, for the degree of Master of Social Sciences in Social Development, University of Cape Town, under the supervision of Eric Atmore.

New Research Report on ECD Released

‘Effective Early Childhood Development Programme Options Meeting the Needs of Young South African Children’

– By Lauren-Jayne van Niekerk, Michaela Ashley-Cooper and Eric Atmore

A new research report with the support of the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD), was released in March 2017. This research report details twelve best-practice ECD programmes currently being implemented throughout South Africa, including both centre-based and non-centre-based ECD programmes. This research study was conducted with the aim to describe and analyse ECD programme options, which work towards increasing access to ECD programmes and improving the quality of ECD for young children in South Africa. Each case provides a detailed description of the programme; the number of beneficiaries reached; a cost breakdown; as well as how best to implement the programme.

This research supports ECD service providers and government departments to implement the National Integrated ECD Policy approved by Cabinet on 09 December 2015, providing children with greater access to quality ECD programmes thereby reducing inequality and poverty. It ensures that the correct information is available for decision-making, that systems are improved, and that high numbers of children are effectively reached through a range of quality ECD programme options. This research is of benefit to children, families and communities because government, the ECD non-profit sector and communities now have guidance providing much-needed, quality ECD programmes. By providing South African policymakers with guidelines based on empirical evidence, the quality of ECD programmes can be enhanced, and those children presently excluded can be reached.

To download an electronic copy of the report, click here: Research Report PDF to download.

To view the report as a e-publication, click here: Research Report e-publication.

An opinion editorial on the research was published in The Mercury Newspaper on 13 April 2017. The article can be read here: ‘Starting Them Young’

International Children’s Day 2018

International Children’s Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness about child rights and well-being, and is celebrated annually on 01 June. This year, CECD was privileged to celebrate this important day with the young children at Christine Revell Children’s Home. The day was filled with fun activities including… READ MORE.

International Children’s Book Day 2018

In celebration of International Children’s Book Day, we hosted a “Book Walk” with the children of Church of Christ Educare Centre, in Silvertown, Athlone, on 29 March 2018.

The aim was to empower children’s journey to reading as well as foster an excitement about reading. We encouraged the children to go home and read the story from their take-home activity, to their friends and family… READ MORE.

Book Drive for Mandela Day 2018

In support of International Literary Day on 08 September 2017, the Centre for Early Childhood Development and the Cape Town Museum of Childhood launched a campaign to collect books for children in community ECD centres.

In anticipation of what would have been President Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday (18 July 2018), our aim is to provide 100 books to 67 ECD centres across the Western Cape. You can help by donating new or gently used children’s books for children… READ MORE.

Universal Children’s Day 2017 – Bringing Children Together through Play!

The Centre for Early Childhood Development and the Cape Town Museum of Childhood celebrated Universal Children’s Day, celebrated annually on 20 November around the world, with 200 children at the Nantes Park, in Bridgetown, Athlone. The 200 children were from neighbouring early childhood development (ECD) centres in the nearby communities.

This is the second time we have celebrated Universal Children’s Day with children at the park and what better a way to celebrate than to bring hundreds of children to a park to play! Play is a crucial part of children’s early development and as such the aim of the event was to bring children together through a common theme of play… READ MORE.

South Africa Calls for a Children’s Commissioner

Since the start of the year, more than 60 children have been murdered in the Western Cape. It is clear that as a country, we are not effective in protecting and advancing the rights of children. To address these challenges, stakeholders in the children’s sector are unanimous that a Children’s Commissioner is necessary, and that we urgently need to explore the role, scope and powers of such an office. In September this year, the Draft Western Cape Commissioner for Children Bill 2017 was gazetted. The Bill is currently under review with non-profit organisations (NGOs) and stakeholders in the sector submitting comments for the improvement of the Bill, where a central concern is the lack of independence afforded to the Commissioner in the Bill. The Centre for Early Childhood Development is part of a committee who are drafting a joint NGO submission on the Western Cape Commissioner for Children Bill… READ MORE.

The Story of Sinethemba Educare

This story is the first in a series of inspiring case studies of some of the wonderful ECD principals and centres that CECD has worked with over the years.

Grace Duko runs an ECD centre in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein in the Western Cape. The story of her work in ECD with her centre, Sinethemba Educare, shows what determination, passion and a love of children can achieve.

Grace first opened her doors in January 1998. Grace started off by looking after 6 to 10 children in a room in her house. Over time she realised that she thoroughly enjoyed working with children and watching them grow. Grace decided to take on more children and converted her house into Sinethemba Educare, which accommodated 29 children. In 2013, Sinethemba Educare managed to purchase a larger piece of land from the City of Cape Town in Wallacedene in order to accommodate more children. Working with numerous supporters, construction on a new ECD centre started in 2014 and was completed in 2016. Grace’s new centre can now accommodate 125 children.

Grace and her team of dedicated staff offer a quality education to the young children in her community. It is this quality education that will set the children at Sinethemba Educare up for future success in their lives. The Centre for Early Childhood Development is honoured to work with women like Grace, in order to ensure the best education for our country’s youngest citizens… READ MORE.

Women’s Day 2017: Honouring women in the ECD community

In celebration of National Women’s Day, the Centre for Early Childhood Development presented gifts to some of the wonderful women working in the ECD community across the Western Cape, to thank them for all they do in the lives of young children in our country.

We selected 10 inspirational ECD principals and 4 ECD specialists, who we have worked closely with over a number of years. We took a day to drive to various communities in Cape Town to hand deliver these gifts, including Ocean View, Nyanga, Philippi, Samora Machel, Athlone and Ottery… READ MORE

Mandela Day 2017 – With the children of Sunshine Educare

The Centre for Early Childhood Development celebrated Mandela Day this year with the children of Sunshine Educare in Wolwerivier, a temporary relocation area in the Western Cape. With the support of POCO and Anchor Industries, much-needed resources, educational equipment and furniture was donated to the centre, to further promote the holistic development of the children in their care. Our Mandela Day event was both the official handover as well as a celebration for the 250 children.

Sunshine Educare was originally started in Skandaalkamp, an informal settlement located on the Frankdale Waste Disposal Site outside Tableview. In June 2015, the community, along with six other settlements, were moved by the City of Cape Town to an even more remote location called Wolwerivier. It was here that Sunshine Educare re-opened its doors in August 2015… READ MORE

International Children’s Day 2017

01 June is recognised as International Children’s Day around the world. This is a day to celebrate and honour children. The Centre for Early Childhood Development spent the day at Oasis Asset Management celebrating with 128 children from Nantes and Bridges Educare (from Bridgetown) and Kiddies Joy Educare (from Bonteheuwel) in the Western Cape. The children enjoyed the day with balloon making characters, jumping castles, a classroom set-up which included arts and crafts, a play dough station, construction area, a story telling session and a teddy bears picnic.

The State of CSI in South Africa – A Summary

The Trialogue CSI Handbook provides insight into the spending patterns of corporate investment in social development in South Africa each year. It serves as a great resource for NPOs to consult. The Centre for Early Childhood Development has summarised the key findings of the Trialogue 2015 CSI Handbook (18th edition), which can be downloaded here: The State of CSI in South Africa 2015 – Key Findings from Trialogue 2015. Hard copies of the handbook can be found on the Trialogue website here.

A joint effort is needed to put an end to deprivation

Despite the global recognition of the importance of upholding children’s rights, millions of children in South Africa still suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases, and unequal access to education. In order for our country to flourish, it is these basic human rights that need protecting.

In this article, we explore key areas affecting the lives of young children. Some areas show positive progress, with others showing less successful results.

The above information was taken from ‘A joint effort is needed to put an end to deprivation’ by Lauren van Niekerk and Michaela Ashley-Cooper; you can access a full copy of this here.

Early Childhood Education: The Difference Between Policy and Reality

“In making ECD a reality for our children, several challenges emerge which need to be overcome if we are to ensure that young children have their constitutional, social, educational and economic rights met. The main challenges are: political will, systemic challenges and implementation challenges….

In order to achieve the NDP outcomes, a number of immediate actions are required. These include the following: the mobilisation of political will; the crafting of ECD legislation; a substantial increase in funding; increase in provision rates and ECD programme quality; establishment of minimum training qualifications for ECD teachers; respect for ECD and Grade R teachers; increase in the competencies of government ECD officials; co-operation with the non-profit sector; a realistic and effective ECD implementation plan and costing; and a national, integrated monitoring and evaluation system.

South Africa has made some progress in meeting the rights and needs of young children, but so much more needs to be done. Twenty three years after the historic democratic elections, we still fail our youngest children and their families in many respects. Millions of young children continue to be denied access to quality ECD programmes and services. Given the immense social, educational and economic benefits of quality ECD opportunities it is imperative that every child has such an opportunity. This is an opportunity that could determine not only the destiny of a child, but also that of a nation.”

The above information was taken from the article “Early Childhood Education: The Difference Between Policy and Reality” by Eric Atmore, Michaela Ashley-Cooper, and Lauren van Niekerk, you can access a full copy of this article here.

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.

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