Function Shift

Function shift – we have been hearing this term for three years. Government responsibility for Early Childhood Development (ECD) is moving from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the 1st April 2022. It has been a turbulent few years as there have been some mixed messages and ‘fake news’ that have been worrying the grassroots ECD champions on the ground.

Impande have been deeply involved in the transition – countering fake news in the municipalities where we work, assisting both departments at the national level with transition planning around ECD registration, supporting DBE in their first major project to support future planning – the ECD census.

We are excited that all the great work we have done with DSD over the past eight years to improve the ECD registration system will be taken forward by the DBE.

Our Vangasali team in partnership with Nelson Mandela Foundation and Data Innovators will continue to coach and mentor DBE officials nationwide on scaling up ECD registration over the next year. The ECD sector needs significant increased investment at the grassroots level to improve the access to subsidized early learning where practitioners get a living wage, training and support and children have access to nutritional food and educational toys to enable their young minds to grow and thrive.
DSD have worked hard on scaling up ECD registration. There have been pockets of great success. However, without the required budget increases the potential of the systems improvements they developed were limited. In our home District of UGU, the number of subsidised ECD services has doubled over the last 5 years thanks to our longstanding work with DSD on ECD registration.

We now sit with around 80% of ECD services subsidised in UGU District, whilst almost every other District in the country has 50% or less subsidised.

The big question is will DBE receive significantly more funding to reach 100% of ECD services across the country?

Impande’s view is that the systems that are in place are working, and they just need more funding. With constraints on government budgets our wish is to see how we can utilise private sector investments and donor funding to support DBE to reach all poor children in South Africa with subsidised early learning.

Sometimes the ECD sector seems intent on constantly changing systems rather than focusing on fully implementing and funding the systems already in place.

We would like to recognise our colleagues from DSD who Impande enjoyed a long standing longstanding partnership with on ECD. We wish DBE well as they take on the mantle of early learning in South Africa.


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Your investment can help us to give children in rural South Africa a fair start in life. You can give a general support donation or donate to one of these specific projects:

  • ECD Infrastructure
  • Playgrounds
  • ECD helpdesk

Covid-19 update

We need your help

We are currently working to support ECD centres to comply with the process set out by DSD for reopening but we need your help.  Centres urgently need water tanks, cleaning materials and personal protective equipment (PPE). Partner with us or make a contribution to reach ECD centres that do not have any water source and those who are not funded by government.

Network and Helpdesk

It is possible to improve access and quality of ECD when communities, government and the private sector work together


·         Facilitate municipal ECD Network meetings to support flow of information between grassroots ECD services, government and stakeholders 

·         Provide a help desk to assist ECD centres with registration and compliance to improve child protection and access to government subsidies.