According to Councillor Meisie Makuwa, just one Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre in Dunoon, Cape Town, is officially registered. They cannot get state support as a result.
The state has standards that centres must complete in order to register with the Department of Education. These include zoning for land use, environmental health clearance, and fire clearance.
However, many daycare centres in underprivileged areas fail to satisfy these fundamental standards.
What the Dunoon registrations would do
After a community meeting earlier this month, Makuwa said that she had attempted to get state financing for the centres but had been informed that they could not be helped since they were not registered. She begged the authorities to assist the daycare centres in becoming compliant.
Unidentified proprietors of an unlicensed daycare centre told GroundUp that she began operations in 2000 out of a shipping container in front of her residence. The lady said that she had seen parents in her neighbourhood leaving their newborns and other small children alone while they went in search of employment.
Thirty kids at the centre, ages three to five, are now under her care, she said, and she is a licenced teacher. He hasn’t been able to rezone the area surrounding the shipping container, and there isn’t enough outside space for the toddlers to play in accordance with municipal ordinances and health and safety regulations, making registration attempts for her crèche futile.
According to her, many parents struggled to meet the monthly costs of a daycare centre and found it pricey to comply with regulations.
“When authorities send a delegation to examine [the creche], they point out all the mistakes and demand that we fix them, but why can’t they provide the funding we need to make the necessary improvements? We need beds, blankets, and tables, she said.
According to Phumeza Ntsantsa, the chairwoman of the Dunoon Early Childhood Development Forum, there are 60 linked daycare centres that are not registered. The owner of a creche, Ntsantsa, who has a degree in early childhood development, has been attempting to register it for 12 years.
Ntsantsa said that in order to register and be in compliance, she had been instructed to reduce the number of children at her facility from 58 to 35.
“What am I supposed to do with the other kids? Because we don’t have enough room and Dunoon itself is overpopulated, our crèches are congested. In some daycare centres in Dunoon, up to 100 children are taught in a single room of an RDP home or a shanty. The monthly fees for the crèches range from R350 to R550, and parents who are jobless find it difficult to afford this sum.
The sole registered daycare centre is administered by a nonprofit organisation called Zusakhe Educare, which also runs other programmes and receives funding from major corporations.
Speaking on behalf of the Western Cape Education Department, Bronagh Hammond told GroundUp that failing to follow health and safety regulations or municipal ordinances might pose threats to children and workers.
All daycare centres must register and adhere to the registration requirements, which are outlined in the Children’s Act. These include zoning for land use, environmental health clearance, and fire clearance. According to Hammond, the education department only gives certifications after inspecting the center’s compliance.
Regarding the councilman from Dunoon’s plea for assistance, Hammond said that the department will investigate further. Our goal, she stated, is to inform centres about the prerequisites for registration and health and safety.