ECD Sector Angered By Exclusion From Vaccination Rollout

ECD Sector Angered By Exclusion From Vaccination Rollout

Amid the rollout of vaccines for the education sector, Early Childhood Development teachers feel let down after they were left out of the vaccination rollout. 

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Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers have expressed their frustration after they were left out of the vaccination rollout for the education sector. They feel they have been let down by the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE). 

 “It makes no sense, once again we have been let down. ECD teachers are teachers too, they take care of an enormous number of children,” said Sandy Immelman from Masikhule, an organisation that trains ECD educators in marginalised communities of the Helderberg area. 

She says that it is unfair to exclude ECD teachers from the vaccination programme and that if these teachers get sick ECD centres may have to close down which will be a cause for disaster. 

“The closure of the centres means that more children are on the streets and not attending school."-Sandy Immelman from Masikhule

ECDs not only offer schooling for children but they also provide nutritional meals every day so closing down would mean that children do not receive these meals, says Immelman. 

The ECD workforce comprises of 180 000 workers with only 42 000 of them falling under the Department of Basic Education while the majority fall under the Department of Social Development. 

ECD teacher Nomava Kalolo says that they want to be moved from the DSD to the DBE. 

“DSD is in a shambles, that department long failed us. Centres struggle with registration due to requirements that make it impossible to get registered. Right now they want the virus to kill us, yet we provide an important service to children,” said Kalolo. 

eNCA spoke to a practitioner, Dr Karin van der Merwe who said that the reasoning behind not vaccinating ECD teachers could be because household studies have shown that it's highly unlikely that children younger than 12 can transmit Covid-19. She says that children are likely to catch Covid-19 from their households however they are less likely to transmit the virus. 

"I can only think that the because the younger the child the less likely they are to transmit Covid, that they have excluded the ECD teachers, but I actually think that they should have included them," says Dr Karin van der Merwe. 

Provincial DSD spokesperson Esther Lewis says that they support the call for ECD staff to be included in this phase of the vaccination rollout. 

“The matter is being discussed between the national departments of social development and health,” said Lewis. 

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in a statement on Friday that she acknowledged that ECD teachers and the post-schooling system felt left out. 

“Work is underway with both the Department of Social Development and Department of Higher Education for their roll out. The sector operates differently from basic education and it was not practically possible to include them as part of the basic education sector programme,” read Kubayi-Ngubane's statement. 

 

 

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