GOVERNMENT and the private sector need to work together to prepare the country’s children for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This is according to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, who delivered the keynote speech at the launch of three Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in Kuruman recently.
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).
“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.
“Therefore, investing in the Early Childhood Development centres is a conscious decision by the department to make use of the funds collected through the national lottery to invest in our children, who are our future,” Magwanishe said.
He added that the R400 million project, which will see 10 ECD centres being built in every province, would go a long way to break down the divide between rural and urban.
“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.
“They will provide an excellent environment which will be conducive to their learning and proper development.
“This will contribute in instilling the culture of learning and love for education at an early age. The country at large will benefit from this investment,” stressed Magwanishe.
He added that equipping South Africa’s children with the right skills was also crucial because the nature of the global world means that they have to compete with other young people from all over the world in all spheres of life when they grow up. He emphasised that putting proper and world-class structures and tools to facilitate the improvement of their social and intellectual capacities would stand them in good stead later in their lives.
The chairperson of the Board of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), Professor Alfred Nevhutanda, said the launch of the centres followed a call 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 who wished 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,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Bathusi Early Learning School, which beneficiated 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 was a far cry from their current premises.