The Real Reform for ECD: Amplifying the Advocacy Agenda for Early Childhood Development

The Real Reform for ECD: Amplifying the Advocacy Agenda for Early Childhood Development

09 Nov 2023


RR4ECD, a robust alliance advocating for holistic, well-funded, inclusive, and quality early childhood development services, with a broad network of over 600 practitioners and is supported by more than 200 organizations. Pam Picken, Early Years Specialist at the DO MORE FOUNDATION served on the steering committee from 2022 to 2023, contributing significantly to the movement's strategic development.

Some of the campaigns hosted this year which DMF was actively involved with included:

● Make ECD a local government municipality priority through the IDP process

● Feedback Submission on the Bella Bill

● The Right to Nutrition Campaign

Real Reform held a number of workshops through the DMF community, young child forums. One recent success story was getting ECD included in the Breede Valley’s 2022 - 2027 IDP was testament to the importance of collective action through Real Reform for ECD’s Make Local Government Work for ECD as well as the partnership with the Do More Foundation. Through the campaign, they collectively mobilised the candidate who was running for councillor to think more about ECD. Local Development Practitioner Jacqueline Saaiman for Lima Foundation said it was helpful that they could leverage the elections to bring ECD to the forefront.

You mentioned a nutrition campaign, What was the right to nutrition campaign all about?

The RR4ECD's 2022-2023 advocacy agenda culminated in the launch of the Right to Nutrition Campaign, a comprehensive effort that delves deep into the essential link between adequate nutrition and a child's holistic development. Adequate nutrition is not merely a need; it is an inherent right of every child. The government's provision of a R17 per child per day subsidy to registered early learning programmes, with only R6.80 allocated for nutrition, falls drastically short of meeting the needs of the children it aims to support. RR4ECD's response to this issue was rooted in extensive research conducted by three dedicated task teams. These teams explored the legal basis of children's right to basic nutrition, the definition of adequate nutrition in the context of health, and practical recommendations for expanding and improving nutrition support in early learning programmes.

The campaign serves as a call from the ECD sector to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to urgently address the gaps in the existing nutrition support system. RR4ECD's evidence-based approach underscores the importance of a national ECD nutrition programme that guarantees nutritious meals to all eligible children, bridging the gap between policy and practice. The Do More foundations, National Programmes Lead, Dr Jessica Ronaasen co-authored the second research report exploring what constitutes adequate nutrition under the leadership of Anna Marie Muller from DGMT.

The 3 report outputs are as follows: RR4ECD's Nutrition Reforms are built on three research papers:

The Legal Report: A legal basis of children's right to basic nutrition and the state's duties in respect of the right.

The Adequate Nutrition Report: We explain what constitutes adequate nutrition from the standpoint of health, and how this is provided at early learning programmes.

The Implementation and Costing Report: We recommend ways of expanding and improving nutrition support to eligible children at early learning programmes.

All three summarised in the following synthesis report.

DO MORE FOUNDATION continues to support the RR4ECD and the advocacy work and partnership with RR4ECD to provide better quality early learning programmes, and nutrition support to young children.