Expanding Early Childhood Development Services: Labour Market Challenges

by ALTMAN, M, 2008
Agenda, 22:78, 120-131

Altman outlines some of the challenges in rapidly expanding early childhood development (ECD) service delivery in a way that meets acceptable quality standards and that generates sustainable employment, based on findings from the “Scaling up ECD (0-4)” programme at the Human Sciences Research Council. It reviews the service delivery gap, outlines government’s emerging ECD programme, links this to its potential contribution to job creation, and then identifies some of the challenges in linking sustained ECD service and employment expansion. ECD for children under the age of five is a major service delivery gap. Government has recently adopted targets to reach three million children by 2010. Since it is inherently labour intensive, the rapid scaling up of services will create large numbers of jobs, potentially up to 325 000. This can contribute substantially to reducing unemployment, especially for women, in a way that is geographically dispersed. However, to meet its service delivery targets, it will be necessary to generate more sustainable sources of income for ECD sites and expand commitment to human resource development.