The importance of ECD for human and social development and productivity is now recognised as a national priority at the highest levels of government. In Phase I of its programme (2009-13), Ilifa demonstrated a variety of modes of ECD service and delivery. This publication details the six strategic objectives of Phase II (2013-2016).
The importance of ECD for human and social development and national productivity is now recognised as a national priority at the highest levels of government. Increased Treasury funding, the 2012 National Diagnostic Review of ECD, the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision for 2030, and the commissioning of new ECD policy proposals, are all evidence of the prevailing political will to invest in ECD.
The NDP pinpoints service provision and education as key elements that will determine the improvement of life chances, capabilities, access to opportunities and employment for the disadvantaged majority, with priority given to the 2.5 million poor and vulnerable children under the age of 6. Health and nutrition services to pregnant women and young children, access to birth registration and social grants, and opportunities for early learning in the years prior to school are crucial components of the required mix.
In October 2013 the FNB Fund joined DGMT, the ELMA Foundation and the UBS Optimus Foundation as an equal funding partner in the Ilifa Labantwana Strategic Partnership, strengthening Ilifa’s resource base and capacity to influence policy and programmes and to inform the expansion of quality ECD services across the country.
By providing implementation evidence, building national capacity, galvanising informed political support, and testing and demonstrating scalable, cost-effective models of intervention, Ilifa has been able to foreground issues of quality, access and equity, as well as the role of home-based and community-based programming.
What makes the Ilifa programme so unique in the South African context, is the strong emphasis on scaling-up to bridge the gap between CBO- and NGO-based local activities and national policy developments spearheaded by government.
In its first phase (2009-13), Ilifa demonstrated a variety of modes of ECD service and delivery, feeding these ideas to teams commissioned by UNICEF on behalf of the national Department of Social Development, and infusing a new spirit of creativity into the national ECD policy process.
This publication outlines the strategy for Phase II, beginning with a contextual overview, followed by details of the six strategic objectives, and ending with governance, administration and M&E considerations for Phase II
- to define an Essential Package of ECD services and demonstrate how they can be provided at scale;
- to support district and provincial systems to provide ECD services at scale;
- to support the development of human resources for scaling-up ECD services;
- to develop appropriate financing models to enable scale-up of ECD services;
- to build public demand through public campaigns, and engage political will through interaction with policy makers; and
- to conduct research to build evidence for effective intervention.
These objectives clearly demonstrate that scaling up ECD servicers and systems is the central goal of Ilifa’s 2013-2016 strategy. By 2016, according to the strategy, a significant majority of South African children will benefit from an Essential Package of age-appropriate ECD services and support, customised for implementation through different modes of service delivery and including all the elements of provision that children need to grow up healthy, resilient and able to take their place in society. As per the Ilifa Essential package, these include
- nutritional support;
- primary level maternal and child health interventions;
- social services;
- support for primary caregivers; and
- stimulation for early learning.
Specific geographic areas have been identified in the North West and KwaZulu Natal for piloting the development of the political and executive leadership, programme management and human resources systems necessary to support programme implementation at scale. A new funding formula that includes all forms of ECD service provision – including home-based programmes, community playgroups and quality ECD centre-based services – is being developed, accompanied by a public campaign to increase a greater public understanding of and demand for ECD amongst parent and caregivers. Ongoing operational research will inform systems development, while Ilifa’s programme governance and administration will strive to remain effective, accountable and compliant with the strategic and fiscal requirements of its donor partners.
Ilifa has demonstrated the importance of programme flexibility through its ability to adapt its programme to the changing context. As an integral part of good governance, a two-part monitoring and evaluation plan will be followed to inform scale-up, progress and achievements and highlight challenges of the programme.
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