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Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Little Flower Early Childhood Development Centre, Nkantolo Village, Eastern Cape

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Programme Director, Ms Tshepang Motsekuoa,
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Oscar Mabuyane,
Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr Makgabo Mhaule,
Eastern Cape MEC for Education, Mr Fundile Gade,
Inkosi Gazula Nkantolo, 
Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Mr Sello Hatang,
Director of Impande South Africa, Mr Brian Liggett,
Principal of Little Flower ECD Centre, Ms Nomangesi Dina,
Social workers and educators,
Members of the community,
Abo Mama nabo Tata be lali 
Molweni kuni nonke.
I am honoured and happy to be here with all of you today, to see the new, bright and beautiful structure of Little Flower Early Childhood Development Centre. 
Even more heart-warming was seeing the cheerful faces and hearing the happy voices of the young ones that I got to speak with today. 
These children and all the children of South Africa are our future leaders.
They are the next generation of South Africans, who must be able to live up to their full potential as responsible, capable and outstanding citizens of tomorrow. 
We cannot leave any child behind. 
Early Childhood Development is a comprehensive approach to the development of a child from birth to seven years of age. 
It aims to protect the rights of children to develop their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential. 
In South Africa, there are still many children who are not thriving because they begin life at a disadvantage. 
This the case in many of our villages here in the Eastern Cape, in the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Local Municipality and around the country.
Despite the many challenges ECD centres face, they have a long and proud history.
Most of these facilities were started by our grandmothers, aunts, sisters and mothers to meet the needs of the community. 
Many started out with very little and have since grown. 
Some started as day-care facilities for working parents, but have since become fully fledged ECD centres.
They have relied on the support of parents and the community and have kept going despite many difficulties.
The growth of ECD centres is a fine example of social entrepreneurship. 
In nearly every village, town or city there is an ECD centre that is contributing to job creation and to the development of our children. 
These are solid foundations we have sought to build upon.
That is why government, in partnership with civil society organisations and donors, is working to address the barriers that ECD centres are facing so that every child has an equal chance at a better life.
The construction of the Little Flower ECD Centre is the outcome of such partnerships.
This is also a pilot site for a new form of ECD centre construction using alternative building technologies. 
The more we are able to move with the times and harness new applications, the more centres like this one can be built, using less resources and with greater speed.
Over the past five years, the Department of Social Development has partnered with various stakeholders to build 248 ECD centres around the country.
The Department of Social Development also introduced the Vangasali Campaign, which is now spearheaded by the Department of Basic Education. 
The campaign helps ECD centres to become formalised and supports ECD workers.
As of the 1st of April this year, the ECD function was successfully migrated from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education. 
This is to link Early Childhood Development to the formal school curriculum.
Government is making significant investments in Early Childhood Development. 
The National Treasury has allocated an amount of just over R1.2 billion as a conditional grant in this financial year to expand ECD services.
This aims to increase the number of children accessing ECD services by subsidising children from indigent families. 
It also helps conditionally registered ECD centres to meet the basic requirements needed to be fully registered. 
Through subsidy interventions we have been able to support nutrition at the centres, provide for workers to be paid and support the acquisition of learning materials. 
Through the Presidential Employment Stimulus, around 54,000 Early Childhood Development practitioners have received support to ensure the survival and reopening of ECD centres in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2012, when the South African government declared ECD to be a public good and embarked on an ECD expansion programme, millions of South African children under the age of 6 have benefited. 
We remain committed to our goal of universal ECD access by 2030 and are working hard to achieve it.
I want to thank all who have made the construction of this centre possible: Impande, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, traditional and community leaders and parents.
Little Flower is a centre of which we can all be proud. 
It is a fitting tribute to the icons of our liberation struggle who were born and spent their childhood here, foremost among them being Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 
She was a social worker by training and studied paediatric social work. 
Giving families and children the necessary support in the early years was one of her passions. 
Were she with us today, she would be proud to see this centre and to see the happy faces of our children.
Our thanks go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other partners for supporting the Vangasali Campaign.
Our gratitude also goes to the Departments of Social Development and Basic Education for their efforts.
Early Childhood Development is an area that Dr Motsepe and I have been very passionate about over the years.
We will continue to contribute what we can, where we can. 
It is the duty of us all to help the children of South Africa to get the best, in order for them to become the best.
Let us work together to create conditions in which the life prospects of a child are not hindered by the circumstances of their birth.
Let us build on the successes we have made.
Let us leave no child behind.
Ndiyabulela. I thank you.