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Bitou and Knysna Pave the Way

As published in the Knysna-Plett Herald:

A recent tragedy involving the mysterious death of a little boy attending an unregistered Early Childhood Development (ECD) facility in Bonteheuwal has raised outrage as the public question why the number of unregistered ECD facilities operating in the Western Cape is so high.

According to the Western Cape Education Department, only about 45% of ECDs in the province are registered. Amongst other reasons, this low number is mainly chalked up to the expenses involved in obtaining facility registration.

Following the incident, The Centre for Early Childhood Development’s Jessica Blom made an appearance on Newzroom Afrika, pointing out that whilst the health and safety of children should always be priority, there are hurdles preventing ECDs the chance to register. These include the long wait for land use consent (which can take years) and enormous costs to structural changes needed to comply with municipal by-laws.

In the Bitou and Knysna municipalities, local NPO Southern Cape Educational Trust t/a Knysna Education Trust (KET) works closely with each facility in the area to monitor health and safety standards and assist ECDs to become registered. Data for Knysna and Bitou municipalities is more positive, with 63% of ECD facilities registered. Specifically, 28 out of 47 ECDs in Bitou Municipality and 50 out of 77 ECDs in Knysna Municipality are registered.

Registration manager Nella Gysman acknowledges that KET’s long standing relationships within the communities they service is key. Celebrating their 30th year of operation in 2023, the organization has fostered connections with principals based on respect and mutual commitment to the health and safety of the children who rely on them.

“These principals and ECD practitioners work under difficult circumstances with limited resources. KET has prioritised building strong relationships with the Health and Safety Officials in both Bitou and Knysna municipalities, working together to ensure that the Children’s Act is adhered to.”

On the 12th and 13th of June KET hosted representatives of the Western Cape Education Department (ECD), with one meeting in Bitou and the other in Knysna, where a total of 95 principals attended. The Department spoke to principals about compliance criteria and offered guidance on the registration process. A key topic of discussion was the Vangasali campaign, which may be a light at the end of the tunnel for many ECDs, allowing them to receive conditional registration and some funding whilst working to fulfill the rigorous criteria for full registration.


Solomons, L. (2023) Unregistered early childhood development sites outnumber official facilities in Western Cape, News24. Available at: https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/unregistered-early-childhood-development-sites-outnumber-official-facilities-in-western-cape-20230612 (Accessed: 19 June 2023).

Nearly 3 000 unregistered early childcare development sites in WC (2023) YouTube. NewzroomAfrika. Available at: https://youtu.be/vOadxCoK1r0 (Accessed: 19 June 2023).