Real Reform for ECD, a grassroots advocacy movement founded in response to the shortcomings of the 2020 Children’s Amendment Bill, celebrates the recent publication of the revised Children’s Amendment Bill (2023) by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). This significant milestone represents a culmination of years of dedicated advocacy efforts aimed at reforming South Africa’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) regulatory framework.


In 2020, Real Reform for ECD was established in response to concerns surrounding a poorly conceived bill that failed to adequately address the challenges facing the ECD sector. Through mass mobilisation from ECD practitioners, with over 1600 submissions made to Parliament, Real Reform for ECD worked tirelessly to highlight the shortcomings of the bill and advocated for five meaningful reforms.


These five reforms included: a one-step registration process for ECD providers, access to the early learning subsidy for all children attending early learning programmes, simpler and adequate health and safety standards, conditional registration to be made clear, and the infrastructure needs of the sector to be supported.


The recent publication of the Children’s Amendment Bill (2023) marks a significant step forward in the journey towards ensuring an enabling legal framework for ECD programmes in South Africa. Real Reform for ECD commends the DBE for its commitment to simplifying and streamlining the regulatory framework for ECD programmes, as well as its recognition of the importance of inclusive and holistic early childhood development.


Key provisions of the Bill, such as the introduction of a one-step registration process for ECD programmes, the recognition of different types of ECD programmes and the call for municipalities to have a strategy for infrastructure support for ECD centres, represent important strides towards creating a more accessible and inclusive ECD sector. Real Reform for ECD is particularly excited about the efforts to simplify the registration requirements.


However, Real Reform for ECD acknowledges that there is still much work to be done. While the publication of the Bill is a significant milestone, it is just one step in the broader process of ensuring appropriate law reform in the short run. The Bill must still be tabled before Parliament and passed to become law.


Therefore, Real Reform for ECD calls on the DBE to prioritise the tabling of the Children’s Amendment Bill (2023) before Parliament after the upcoming elections and pass the Bill in 2025. It is imperative that policymakers continue to push for appropriate regulation of the ECD sector.


As we celebrate this milestone, Real Reform for ECD remains committed to advocating for the rights of all children to access holistic, quality and inclusive early childhood development services. Together, we can build a brighter future for the children of South Africa.

About Real Reform for ECD:

Real Reform for ECD is a movement advocating for holistic, well-funded, inclusive and quality early childhood development services for all children. Our focus is to ensure an enabling legal, policy and regulatory environment for the provision and expansion of ECD services.

Publicist: Clayton Morar

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