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President Ramaphosa leads collaborative focus on early childhood development

A multi-disciplinary grouping of national departments has committed to collaborate strategically to ensure universal access for citizens to comprehensive early childhood development services, with a focus on prioritising the nation’s most vulnerable children.

This will be complemented by the South African Police Service (SAPS) deploying resources and services to ensure the safety and protection of children.

The wellbeing and development of children was the focus of the recent inaugural meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Early Childhood Development (ECD) convened by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The meeting on 23 April 2024 marked a pivotal moment in Government’s commitment to providing comprehensive and inclusive early childhood development services to all children.

President Ramaphosa characterised ECD as the real revolution for the country’s long-term development.

The early years of a child’s life provide the foundations for their future flourishing and success.

Moreover, equitable access to comprehensive early childhood development opportunities is the cornerstone of improved educational outcomes and inclusive economic growth.

Progress towards expanding these opportunities, and ensuring that no child is left behind, therefore needs to be early and rapid.

The objectives of the inaugural Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting were to establish the IMC through an adopted Terms of Reference, clarify the mandates of each department for ECD delivery, agree on proposed priority areas for ECD programmes, and agree on the development and reporting against a joint outcome-based monitoring & evaluation framework for ECD to track progress against proposed priority areas.

During the meeting, several key points were discussed and agreed upon:

1. Integrated Support for Children's Potential: It was emphasised that for children to reach their full potential, they require a range of interconnected and diverse support delivered by various Government departments as well as social sector partners. 

2. Collaborative Approach: The Departments of Basic Education; Health; Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Social Development; Higher Education and Training; Labour; Sport, Art and Culture; and Correctional Services and Home Affairs will collaborate strategically to ensure universal access to comprehensive ECD services, with a focus on prioritising the most vulnerable children.

The SAPS will also play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and protection of children.

Support from the National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation will be vital in enabling these departments to fulfil their mandates.

3. The priorities of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for the next 5 years: The IMC for ECD, supported by a Director-General Committee agreed on the following 5 priorities:

• Every child to have access to a flexible package of age-appropriate, affordable ECD programmes 
• Improved collaboration between the government departments, provincial departments and social sector partners.
• Sufficient funding and resourcing to be targeted effectively to the most vulnerable communities
• A capable ECD workforce to be developed that is well-supported and equipped; and
• To enhance programme quality through appropriate support and monitoring.

4. Finally, the IMC also agreed to the joint development of an outcomes-based framework to track progress on the key outcomes and services that are likely to drive changes in child outcomes, as measured by the Thrive by Five Index. 

The Department of Basic Education will be convening future IMC meetings and is committed to working collaboratively with other relevant departments and stakeholders to ensure that every child in South Africa has access to quality early childhood development services.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee affirmed its belief that investing in children's early years is the foundation for a brighter and more prosperous future for our nation.

Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President, on

Issued by: The Presidency

 Union Building