Pretoria– Government and the private sector need to work together to prepare the country’s children for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe.
“It is imperative that the private sector and government work together in ensuring that our children are fully equipped for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will enable them to contribute meaningfully in the economy of the country.
“Investing in Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres is a conscious decision by the Department [of Trade and Industry] to make use of the funds collected through the National Lottery to invest in our children, who are our future,” said the Deputy Minister.
He was delivering the keynote address at the launch of three ECD centres in Kuruman in the Northern Cape on Thursday. The centres have been funded by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), which is one of the agencies of the Department of Trade and industry (the dti).
The ECDs are part of a R400-million project, which will result in 10 brick and mortar ECD centres being built in every province. Deputy Minister Magwanishe said this investment will go a long way in breaking down the divide between rural and urban development, allowing children from rural settings to later in life participate meaningfully in the economy, which is strongly driven by the digital revolution.
“Children of the villages where the centres have been established will no longer need to go to town to get the best. The project will transform these institutions into centres of excellence that can compare with the best in any part of the country,” said the Deputy Minister.
The centres will also provide an excellent environment that will be conducive to learning and proper development, and instilling a culture of learning and love for education at an early age.
“The country at large will benefit from this investment,” said the Deputy Minister.
Equipping South Africa’s children with the right skills is crucial to levelling the playing field because in today’s world, children get to compete on a global stage.
Deputy Minister Magwanishe said putting in place world-class structures and tools to improve children’s social and intellectual capacities will stand them in good stead later in life.
The Chairperson of the Board of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), Professor Alfred Nevhutanda, said the launch of the ECD centres follows a call that was issued by the NLC in 2015 for applications aimed at the advancement of Centres of Excellence for Early Childhood Development in South Africa.
Applications were invited from established and registered ECD centres that wanted to improve their infrastructure in specific priority areas. This is part of the NLC’s efforts to change lives of vulnerable communities across the country.
Speaking on behalf of Bathusi Early Learning School, which benefited from the programme, Hilda Senatle, expressed her gratitude to the NLC and the dti.
She said her children were looking forward to occupying their new building, which is a far cry from their current premises.