The ECD Non-Profit (NPO) training sector has played a prominent role over a period of decades in the design and implementation of ECD projects. This study provides important insights into the size, scope, capacity and geographic distribution of NPOs involved in training for ECD projects and programmes for children aged 0–4. 

Early childhood development (ECD) is receiving significant official attention, and features prominently in South Africa’s National Development Plan and its Vision 2030. A ‘window of opportunity’ thus exists for the renewed development and upscaling of ECD in South Africa. Ilifa’s 2013-2016 strategy is centred around the scaling-up of ECD services and up-to-date information on ECD NPOs is obviously crucial to this.

76 ECD training NPOs were surveyed and the key findings were as follows:

  • Scope and Shape of the Sector: The ECD training NPO sector is relatively small and diverse, with a significant imbalance of distribution. Most ECD training NPOs are located in metropolitan areas, particularly in Gauteng and the Western Cape, while the rural provinces are significantly under-serviced.
  • Legal Structures, Governance and Accreditation: Most organisations are legally compliant, but many need help in complying with updated governance guidelines and accreditation requirements.
  • Learning Programmes: Only 63% of respondents are registered with the Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training Authority (ETDP SETA), while less than 50% are accredited to offer the Further Education and Training Certificate: ECD, which is currently the principal ECD qualification requirement. There is a significant variation in the duration and delivery of training, with most ECD training programmes being short, non-accredited and non-specific, with many NPOs providing teaching and learning resources.
  • Trainees: 96% are female, almost 50% are younger than 35 and many have matric. Almost 10 000 of a total of 14 415 trainees work in ECD centres.
  • Staffing: Most ECD training NPOs are small with half having a staff complement of eight or less, a challenge for the scaling-up of ECD training. 86% of management and professional staff are female, while only 37% are formerly disadvantaged. 40% of directors have had no leadership or management training or support, while 45% of ECD trainers have no adult education or facilitation qualification. English is the main medium of instruction and there is a need for more African language training. There is a need to recruit younger trainers.
  • Stakeholder Relationships: Most providers network with government departments, predominantly the Department of Social Development (DSD), and most belong to the National ECD Alliance.
  • Funding and Sustainability: Donor funding is still the major source of funding, with few respondents accessing public funds.
  • Infrastructure: One third of respondents indicated that they would need increased infrastructure to scale up training.

Key Recommendations

Overall, the report shows that, due to the ongoing economic crisis, the ECD sector is currently facing fundraising challenges, which place a major challenge in the way of the required scaling-up of ECD services. The number of qualified specialist ECD trainers in ECD NPOs needs to be substantially increased, the skills of existing trainers need to be upgraded, as does leadership and management training throughout the ECD sector, while government officials need to be capacitated with the knowledge and skills required to manage the expansion of public sector ECD programmes. A 2000 nationwide audit revealed that most practitioners were considered to be underqualified, with many struggling to cope with the demands of training programmes.

The key recommendations of the study were as follows:

  • Funding: Sustainability is a major challenge. An advocacy campaign on the importance of the early years is urgently needed, as is a lobby to increase funding for ECD services. The ECD NPO training sector needs support, and partnerships with government departments and public institutions need to be developed.
  • Staff Capacity: Support is needed to develop leadership and management capacity and plan for succession. Existing trainers need to upgrade their skills leading to professional ECD qualifications and additional qualified trainers need to be sourced, especially those able to train in African languages.
  • Systems Support: Many organisations need support with accreditation, meeting statutory requirements, the development of quality assurance, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Advocacy and Networking: A comprehensive, coordinated ECD human resource development strategy is required, involving all key stakeholders, including the ECD NPO training sector.





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