LEGO Foundation and the Department of Basic Education Launch First National South African ECD Census

LEGO Foundation and the Department of Basic Education Launch First National South African ECD Census

[Johannesburg, 2 December 2020] The LEGO Foundation in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is undertaking an ambitious nationwide census of early childhood development (ECD) programmes to better understand the ECD landscape in South Africa. This will be the first National ECD census that aims to collect data at this scale.

The census will enable a count of all registered and non-registered ECD sites – an estimated 40 000 sites – in the country, and an assessment of how accessible learning through play opportunities are at these sites, with a view to expanding them.

For more than a decade the LEGO Foundation has invested in advocating for learning through play (LtP) in South African policy and practice. The Foundation has worked to create engaging and motivating learning environments that equip learners with the skills they need for the future.  

“This is an important moment for us at the LEGO Foundation. Not only will the census support the DBE in their planning around ECD, but it shows the priority the DBE has placed on ECD at this critical time,” said Kerry Kassen, LEGO Foundation Initiatives Lead in South Africa.

“We believe in strengthening systems that support LtP especially in the youngest years of a child’s life. At the LEGO Foundation we know that if we want to create strong leaders of the future, we need to start at the beginning by creating opportunities that allow our youngest members of society to be in environments that foster creativity, curiosity and playful exploration,” she added. 

The LEGO Foundation believes that LtP can strengthen the quality of ECD, an ethos that is in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, particularly those that focus on ensuring “that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”. 

The ECD function is currently being shifted from the Department of Social Development to the ambit of the DBE following an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his 2019 State of the Nation address. 

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has urged all ECD centres in South Africa to participate in the census. 

“The partnership with the LEGO Foundation is timely and important and more so now that we are in the process of the ECD Function shift. The census will give us a good sense in terms of the lay of the land, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic exposing us to a whole lot of experiences that we would otherwise not have considered. We urge all ECD sites to participate and give us much needed information for planning and decision-making purposes, and to ensure that data captured in this census is accurate and beneficial to all.” 

The joint LEGO Foundation and DBE data collection project speaks to the commitment of both partners to develop ECD systems for all children in South Africa. 

“It is our joint belief that quality ECD is an investment in the future of South Africa.  It is a lever that can influence overall equality and impact the trajectory of all children. We recognise that this census is an important step to creating a change for the children of this country,” Kassen concluded. 

The ECD Census will be rolled out in 2021. 

About the LEGO Foundation

The LEGO Foundation aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow; a mission that it shares with the LEGO Group. The LEGO Foundation is dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for learning through play.

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