DHET pledges R47m to aid UFH to build Early Childhood Development Centre

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The University of For Hare through the Faculty of Education; signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with three Eastern Cape Provincial departments on Thursday, 5th of November 2016 in East London. Attended by the MECs of Education, Health and Social Development, UFH hosted a round-table discussion on Early Childhood Development (ECD) provisioning and research. The event concluded with the signing of the MOU which will see the building of the Early Childhood Development Centre in our centenary year in 2016. Through this MOU, The University has embarked on an exciting journey that will see the formation of the UFH ECD Centre of Excellence to be based at the East London Campus, under the auspices of the Faculty of Education.  

In partnership with funder the, ELMA Foundation, and delivery partners, South Africa Partners, and Wheelock College in Boston USA, the University of Fort Hare's  Education Faculty has made significant headway this year to set up governance and operational structures which are to have a significant impact on the University’s ability to deliver on ECD provisioning into the future. The University of Fort Hare is well known for its commitment to the National Development Plan (NDP), which strives to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030 through uniting South Africans to work together in unleashing the potential of all its citizens.  With the support of stakeholders, the University of Fort Hare has embraced a transdisciplinary approach to Early Childhood Development (ECD) through the establishment of an Early Childhood Development Centre of Excellence. The Centre of Excellence will be built alongside the Education Faculty Offices in East London, the launch of which will be one of the flagship projects for the university’s centenary celebrations in 2016.

In a university wide statement that was signed by the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor states that the Centre’s vision of families and communities capable of providing safe, secure and nurturing childhoods in which young children grow, play, learn, and develop their full potential as South African citizens, will be achieved by the University through the ECD Centre of Excellence by committing itself to:

  1. developing curricula for accredited courses that are aimed at upskilling ECD practitioners, in line with the National Development Plan,
  2. engaging research in the ECD sector that helps develop sound ECD practice, and
  3. working in partnership with the Provincial Departments of Education, Health and Social Development, and community based organisations involved in ECD in the Eastern Cape.


A national audit of the ECD sector reflects that educational qualifications are lacking for most ECD practitioners and principals: 35% of principals and 40% of practitioners have not completed Grade 12, and only 30% of practitioners have ECD certificates at any level. Upskilling is badly needed amongst existing practitioners and principals, and at the same time, there is a demand to train larger numbers of educators to meet provincial and national goals.  In the Eastern Cape alone, the provincial development plan estimates that 30 000 caregivers and educators are need to be trained to achieve universal access to ECD services by 2030.

Dr Mvuyo Tom reflects: “As a university which is situated in the heart of the Eastern Cape, we are committed to ensuring that we impact on the ECD sector in ways that will ensure that children, between the ages of 0 and 4, have the best chance of unleashing their potential as they grow up and become contributing members of South African society”