DA welcomes extension of ECD Relief Fund, but online applications continue to exclude many of those in need

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the extension of the deadline for Early Childhood Development Employment Stimulus Relief Fund (ECD-ESR) applications to 26 February 2021, after we wrote a letter to the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, on 17 February 2021.

While extending the deadline and increasing access by availing the application platform in three additional languages does ease the application process somewhat, other major challenges still hinder many applicants from participating fairly in this life-line relief package.

  • The requirement for business banking accounts;
  • Low level of computer literacy;
  • Lack of access to resources such as the internet, computers, smartphones and data;
  • The online application is not user friendly; and
  • ECD employees are disadvantaged.

As of 17 February 2021, 6 114 applications have been received with 74 525 ECD employees registered.

The R496 million allocated to the ECD-ESRF at R4470 per ECD employee implies that the assigned budget allocation can still accommodate a further approximated 36 436 ECD employees.

It is imperative that every Rand allocated to the ECD-ESRF finds itself in the hands of as many ECD employees as possible without them having to jump through cumbersome hoops, to support the livelihood of the vulnerable sector.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in his reply to the State of the Nation Address yesterday highlighted the importance of the ECD-ESRF and early childhood development. The President in his closing remarks said: “We will place the South African child at the centre of all our efforts”.

An online only application process is a form of prejudice and the DA calls on Minister Zulu to make that effort and address the ECD-ESRF challenges brought to her attention, if she truly wishes to enaction the President’s promise.