Thuli Madonsela calls for an improvement in the Early Childhood Development sector

Teacher and her learners. Picture: Supplied

Teacher and her learners. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 23, 2021


Equality in education for South Africa’s youngest children will deliver true social justice in the future.

Professor Thuli Madonsela who serves as the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University Law Faculty, believes that every South African child is entitled to a “fair start to life”, through equal-quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) for children aged 0-6.

Currently, Prof Madonsela is leading the “Musa Plan for Social Justice” also known as the “Social Justice M-Plan”. This is aimed at accelerating the advancement of social justice, focusing on zero poverty and equalising opportunities in South Africa by 2030, as envisaged by the National Development Plan.

According to Prof Madonsela, South Africa needs modern 21st century education relevant to the new global economy.

“With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the machines are doing all the routine things. And we must be the ones who are innovative. Therefore, now there's a mismatch between ourselves and our education,” says Madonsela.

She said the current education system was specifically created for the 19th century, when industry needed people who didn't think.

“ It just needed people who had to do as they were required and told, But the 4IR has significantly changed this 200-year-old educational approach.”

Prof Madonsela is a patron of the Indaba Foundation, based in the Cape Winelands, which funds the training of women at the Indaba Institute training school outside Stellenbosch. This training enables women graduates to offer significantly higher-quality ECD to children in vulnerable communities. Other patrons include former Deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who has recently served as the executive director of UN Women, and UN expert Bience Gawanas.

Through the Indaba Foundation, Madonsela urges the government, the private sector and all South Africans to support quality ECD, “so that we can build a thriving nation”.

“A comprehensive network of quality ECD centres, such as the Indaba Foundation is working to deliver, could transform the future for South Africa. It’s all-hands-on-deck. We all need to become involved. When spider webs combine, they can tie up a lion,” concludes Madonsela.

Andre Shearer, founder and chairperson of the Indaba Foundation, welcomed Prof Madonsela, saying that her participation was crucial.

“Our urgent investment in our women graduates, and in the children they care for in our communities, is far more than an ‘education’ issue. We are laying the foundation for a more socially just future. To have Prof Madonsela at the forefront of ECD advocacy is both an honour, and vital.

“Her call for social investment in our work will resonate with people around the world. As it should, because investment in the earliest years of our children’s lives - aged 0 to 6-years-old - is the greatest investment any society can make in its future,” said Shearer.