Hundreds of early childhood development sector workers march in Manguang

They are frustrated by “failures” in the Free State education system

By Becker Semela and Dan Xangaza

23 November 2023

Hundreds of people in the early childhood development sector marched to the office of Free State Premier Mxolisi Dukwana on Wednesday. Photo: Dan Xangaza

Starting at Ramkraal on the periphery of central Maguang, hundreds of people marched on Wednesday to Free State Premier Mxolisi Dukwana’s office and to the provincial education department offices, where MEC Makalo Mohale was attending a meeting.

“We marched because we are frustrated by the failures of the education system, especially directly affecting the early childhood development (ECD) sector,” said Forum for Service Delivery chairperson Puseletso Mohokare.

“The department is not attending to pressing matters such as cases of corruption and maladministration that is depriving our communities of basic services such as effective ECD and foundation education for our children.”

“The right to education and a conducive growing environment for our children are guaranteed rights in specific sections of our Constitution. We march to remind them [government] of their constitutional obligations,” said Mohokare.

She said ECD managers and employees suffered “ill treatment” from education department officials and were “not addressed as human beings and as adults”.

The protesters are against proposed budget cuts for the ECD sector. They also say there is too much paperwork and that they have to complete reports that should be done by officials. If the reports are “not good,” they are threatened with the closure of their ECD centres.

The memorandums were received and signed by MEC Mohale and by sports, arts and culture MEC Maki Mahasa on behalf of Premier Dukwana.

“We are giving them only seven days to respond,” said Mohokare.

The marchers have promised to shut down the metro if they do not get a positive response.