No need for special-needs schools, says social development minister

ECDs to be standardised under education department

Education MEC Fundile Gade said the main purpose of the migration was to ensure children in the centres received quality education to prepare them for primary school.. File photo.
Education MEC Fundile Gade said the main purpose of the migration was to ensure children in the centres received quality education to prepare them for primary school.. File photo.
Image: iStock Images

 

The migration of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres from the social development department to the education department set for April 1 next year has been met with mixed feelings by parents and other stakeholders.

The two departments hosted a joint summit on Thursday at the Mandla Makupula Education Institute to introduce the functional shift. Stakeholders welcomed the move, but also had reservations.

ECDs include day care centres and crèches that cater for children as young as a few months old up to five years.

Addressing the media, education MEC Fundile Gade said the main purpose of the migration was to ensure children in the centres received quality education to prepare them for primary school.

“This function shift will see about 2,556 ECDs migrated to the education department. The main issue to be addressed by the shift is ensuring adequate preparedness for every child that arrives in the primary schooling system, eliminate poor grades, drop outs and repeating of grades that emanates from low levels of school readiness.

“This is also to increase education outcomes like improved attention and learning outcomes.”

Gade said both departments had signed a memorandum of agreement in  support of the process.

“Interdepartmental provincial project management teams have been established to ensure a smooth transition,  including legal contracts, human resources, finances and budgets, data information, infrastructure, ECD implementation programmes, monitoring and evaluation as well as communication and stakeholder engagement.

“These teams will consistently consolidate and provide reports to the provincial cabinet and portfolio committees involved as part of monitoring this transition process.”

Speaking on behalf of parents with children in ECD centres, Vuyelwa Royi said they had been excited when they heard about the shift, but said they had concerns.

Royi said: “We trust our government as parents but these are our children we are talking about here and we can’t allow them to be moved from pillar to post without prompting questions of concern. The main thing that caused fear among parents was the lack of information because we weren’t sure about many things.

“We are happy to learn today that our children won’t be moved to the school environment but will continue in their current centres which will be under the education department.

“We are excited about the fact that our children, whether they are physically impaired or not, will get the same education that will lead them to a bright future.”

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu attended the summit virtually. She said the government was making strides to do away with the segregation of children by placing some in “special schools”.

“We are trying to create a society that will see all children the same and not discriminate against others by placing them into special schools. We will create schooling environments that will cater for their needs. There is no need for a physically impaired child to go to a special school,” Zulu said.

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