The South African Early Childhood Development Forum in the Free State has launched a campaign to shut down all unregistered early childhood development centres operating in the province. Piet Motaung reports that poor nutrition is one of the many reasons why such centres pose a risk to children.
“We have received a lot of complaints from concerned community members and affected parents in relation to the conditions at some centres. The problems encountered include poor nutrition, inappropriate environment for children, overcrowding and unqualified teachers,” said Puseletso Mohokare, chairperson of the forum.
She added that her organisation will be working together with the Free State Department of Social Development and the police to ensure that mushrooming centres are closed up completely before they can impose a health hazard to many of the children left in care. Many of these unregistered centres fail to comply with the Children’s Act, and are therefore not equipped to be recognized care facilities. Many of these unregistered centres fail to comply with the Children’s Act, and are therefore not equipped to be recognized care facilities.
Many of these unregistered centres fail to comply with the Children’s Act, and are therefore not equipped to be recognized care facilities.
“Early Childhood Development is covered by our laws and the national Integrated Early Childhood Development policy and the national development plan. To operate an ECD centre you need to receive consent from Town Planning, then register with the Department of Health and finally register with the Department of Social Development,” she explained.
“These centres are required to feed the children in their care. Most of those operating illegally are overcrowded and the children are underfed and neglected. Children are exposed to sickness due to none compliance of illegal ECD centres.”
Malnutrition is high and contributes to 64 percent of all deaths in children under the age of five according to research by Unicef South Africa.
Unicef South Africa said that every year about 75000 children do not make it to their fifth birthday. One in five children are stunted and many are deficient in the vitamins and minerals vital to good health and optimal development, the organisation claimed.
The CEO of South African Early Childhood Development Forum, Raphael Molise, urged all parents and community members in the Free State to come on board, and help to identify centers that operate illegally.
“This is a societal issue, therefore we need to work together to combat the situation facing our children,” added Molise.
This campaign has already kicked off in Bloemfontein phase 6 and phase 9, where more than three illegal centre were identified and closed down immediately.