The Early Childhood Development stimulus fund was due to be paid at the end of March. | Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)
The Early Childhood Development stimulus fund was due to be paid at the end of March. | Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

ECD stimulus fund payments are three weeks overdue, says CECD

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) is calling for the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to instruct provincial departments to pay out the ECD stimulus fund relief package urgently.

The organisation said the money was scheduled to be paid out at the end of the 2020/2021 financial year – the end of March.

Last October President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the R496 million ECD stimulus fund would assist the ailing sector.

CECD claims that over 100 000 ECD principals, managers, teachers, cooks and other staff did not receive the payout.

According to the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) website, this would mean the relief will be a maximum of R4 470 per staff member as a once-off payment. There will be a limit of up to four staff members for ECD centres and up to one staff member for non-centre based ECD services that will be eligible for support.

The lockdown brought on by the pandemic crippled the sector with many ECD centres closing down.

According to the Afrika Tikkun chief executive Alef Meulenberg, 10% of the 50 to 70 pre-schools the organisation worked with had closed permanently.

Based on a report by the University of Johannesburg a number that could be as high as 1 784 centres may have closed since March last year.

“The sector has been informed that the money has been distributed to some of the provinces, but DSD has not made any announcement in this regard. It is unclear how far DSD is with processing payments. The sector is deeply concerned that DSD will not pay ECD workers at this time when relief is so greatly needed. A fear is that government and public officials’ corruption will deny ECD staff what was allocated,” said the CECD.

The CECD is calling for Zulu to confirm whether there has been a successful rollover of funds from the 2020/2021 financial year in all nine provinces. That she provides clarity on which ECD services will be prioritised, given that the number of applications has exceeded the targeted 108 833 ECD workers and that the payout is made urgently.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape DSD is urging all ECD programmes and services that applied for the ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund to verify their details that have been captured on the government’s database by Friday, May 7.

A total of 3 164 applications have been made and applicants have been sent an SMS to advise them to update their applications to ensure payment.

Some of the errors identified are incorrect identity numbers, errors in banking details and incorrect addresses.

Applicants are encouraged to log into the website to ensure details are correct.

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