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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

After the promises: a guide to ECD post the local government elections 2016

In this policy post Patricia Martin considers how to push for activation of the ECD sector following the August 2016 local government elections 

Well, the local government elections, and hopefully the celebratory or remorse hangovers, are now behind us. The newly elected administrations now face the hard work of making the many promises a reality and creating better communities and livelihoods for the people in their constituencies. This fresh start represents a wonderfully unique opportunity to get ECD firmly on the agenda of the new local administrations.  However, making the most of this opportunity requires careful and strategic planning and advocacy.

There are 278 municipalities in South Africa, comprising eight metropolitan, 44 district and 226 local municipalities. They are focused on growing local economies and providing infrastructure and service. If well-planned, the ECD sector can make significant shifts happen at local government level – that is if the sector uses the new space strategically and systematically to ensure that all 278 municipalities place ECD at the centre of their rights and development vision as captured in their IDPs and budgets.

Engaging with municipalities one at a time is not likely to unlock the required universal and systemic commitment and changes we need to see across all municipalities. Even if we were to engage with one municipality at a time, who will do this engagement, will such engagement happen quickly enough in the small window we have now in the post-election period, and how will we ensure consistency across the various advocacy initiatives?

The ECD policy in fact provides a strategic and systemic solution to ensure universal and effective fulfillment of local governments’ ECD responsibilities. The ECD sector must put their collective weight behind it to ensure it is actioned without delay.

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