The campaign aims to secure the provision of adequate nutrition for all eligible young children attending early learning programmes in South Africa, fostering their holistic development.
The campaign was launched on Friday, 3 November at the community hall in Finetown in Johannesburg. The First Lady of South Africa Dr Tshepo Motsepe served as the keynote speaker.
Real Reform for ECD (RR4ECD), a movement dedicated to advocating for holistic, well-funded, inclusive and quality early childhood development services for all children, has been at the forefront of championing a legal and policy environment that is conducive to the growth and expansion of ECD services.
The 'Right to Nutrition' campaign is a direct outcome of rigorous research conducted by three research task teams, according to Real Reform for ECD. Their research delved into:
- understanding the right to nutrition
- defining what constitutes adequate nutrition, and
- exploring ways for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to implement a robust ECD nutrition programme.
The Nutrition Research Series can be accessed here
Real Reform for ECD says that the campaign calls on the DBE to provide nutrition support to all eligible children attending an early learning programme — regardless of whether the programme is registered or not.
"We must not neglect the most vulnerable children, especially those at unregistered programmes, who stand the most to gain from nutrition support," says RR4ECD coordinator Tshepo Mantje.
"By launching this campaign, we hope to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood nutrition and the possibility of an ECD nutrition programme similar to the National Schools Nutrition Programme by the DBE, which feeds about nine million poor learners in primary and secondary schools daily," say the organisers.
Dr Motsepe says, "It's our collective duty to ensure that our young children of South Africa are given every opportunity to thrive. It is their fundamental right to have access to adequate nutrition."
"I acknowledge the role that the Department of Basic Education must play in providing adequate nutrition to our children across all communities in South Africa. The success of this campaign is reliant on the collaborative efforts and unwavering support from both government and non-governmental organisations," adds Dr Motsepe.
"This is a call for action that extends to all stakeholders related to the ECD sector — development care and nutrition of their children. The right to nutrition is non-negotiable. May our collective efforts bring love and nourishment to the future generations of South Africa, one nutritious meal at a time," Dr Motsepe says.
Real Reform for ECD, the main event was a panel discussion featuring a Q&A session. The panel featured research representatives:
- Kayin Scholtz from Umnedi
- Anna-Marie Müller of the DG Murray Trust
- Tatiana Kazim from the Equal Education Law Centre
- Nonhlanhla Dzingwa, an ECD principal from Orange Farm
- Carina Müller, the chief education specialist at the Department of Basic Education, and
- Ruby Motaung, the director of Tree-ECD.
Müller says, "The DBE will be launching a pilot soon to test how they can ensure adequate nutrition support to early learning programmes. The pilot will most likely include more rural provinces."
Mantje welcomes this development and hopes that the research produced by this campaign will support the DBE in developing an ECD national nutrition programme. Mantje called upon the DBE to extend nutrition support to all eligible children in early learning programmes, stressing the importance of not overlooking the needs of children in unregistered programmes.
Real Reform for ECD concludes that the campaign launch event united ECD partners in addressing the alarming levels of childhood hunger and malnutrition.
For more information, visit www.ecdreform.org.za
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