As we proceed through the global COVID-19 pandemic, our country has been profoundly impacted on. The early childhood development (ECD) sector has been particularly impacted on and is now under severe threat. Despite the promises and commitments made by government post-1994, ECD has not flourished as we had hoped. This is particularly evident in ECD provision rates and in the absence of government’s political will and National Treasury’s financial allocations to the ECD sector. Certainly, more children are attending ECD centers and programmes since 1994 but it is civil society that has made this happen. Whilst doing this, the ECD non-profit sector gets little acknowledgement of its work from government. It is clear that, politically, there is a lack of support, some would even say resistance, from government towards ECD.
The ideal of “Putting Young Children First”, proudly an aim in our early years of democracy, has not been realized. Many respected commentators and thought leaders are now suggesting that vulnerable young children are worse off today, in 2021.
This edited collection of essays covers the thoughts, concerns, calls-for-action, and opinions of thought leaders in the ECD sector in South Africa. It consists of 16 essays, of varying length, on various aspects of ECD. I approached these authors as highly respected thought leaders in ECD, asking them to contribute an essay 2 for the book on any ECD aspect of their choice, which they find to be relevant for this time in history. Each person approached, immediately agreed to contribute to this collection. My brief to authors was that “nothing is sacred, please take the opportunity to be provocative, challenging and adventurous.” I also asked some authors to contribute specific articles which I had come across and wanted to share with a wider audience. The idea is that you can dip into this collection and take something of value out each time.
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