21 October 2018


Social Development explains the underspending of ECD grant

by: Nthusang Lefafa   date: 01 June 2018

Bokone Bophirima’s Department of Social Development says
failure to comply with legislature that governs early childhood
development centres (ECDs) has resulted in underspending of a
grant allocated by Treasury to the department for ECDs.
Parliament’s Select Committee on Appropriations heard recently
that the province only spent 62.1% of its allocated budget of
R32.686 million during the fourth quarter of the 2017/18 financial
Spokesperson for Bokone Bophirima’s Department of Social
Development, Petrus Siko, explained to Semphete that the
department often comes across various challenges in the day-to-
day running of the centres.
“A number of ECDs do not meet the minimum requirements to
operate in terms of the Childrens’ Act 38 of 2005. Founders of
ECDs are at times not qualified practitioners in terms of early
childhood development and run these centers without the relevant
“Some parents whose children attend ECDs struggle to pay fees.
The non-payment by parents leads to the bank account of the
centre being closed. When the centre eventually opens another
account, its banking details change while they are awaiting
government funding. This results in internal control or audit
queries,” said Siko.
The department also says some practitioners use their private
houses or dilapidated buildings as ECD centers. This then leads to
failing to meet the norms and standards of successful registration.
In the previous financial year, 178 early childhood development
centres were sponsored by the province. This was against a target
of 155. A further 4 490 children from low-income households were
subsidised against a target of 6 632.
The parliamentary committee heard that Bokone Bophirima had
done a mere 10 of the 48 upgrades that it set out to do.
The committee’s Acting Chairperson, Charel de Beer, said the
ECD grant aims to improve the access of learners from poor

backgrounds and ensure that ECD centers have adequate
“Although the grant was only released in the 2017/18 financial
year, provinces are encouraged to realise the importance of this
grant and the effect of this grant on leaners in Grade 1 and
beyond,” said de Beer.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) indicated that one
of the biggest challenges of maintaining ECD centres was the
R100 000 limit towards infrastructure projects, which cannot
accommodate the high quotations received from contractors.
A number of provinces also blamed the failure in maintenance on
the delays in tendering processes but the committee said that
Supply Chain Management (SCM) policy only requires
infrastructure projects to go out on tender for projects costing more
than R200 000. Bokone Bophirima’s social development
department plans to increase the limit on infrastructure projects to
R180 000.
These are the minimum requirements for accessing government
funding to operate an ECD centre:

  • An ECD must be registered as a Non-Profit Organisation(NPO) in good standing. The ECD practitioner must havethe relevant qualifications to operate the centre.
  • The practitioner/s must submit their business plan before theclosing date.
  • They must have registered with Central Supplier Database.
  • They must have registered with SARS and be in goodstanding.
  • The application should comply with the departmentalchecklist.