southafricalogoNews24 reports that the Department of Social Development has announced that the deadline for applications for the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Stimulus Relief Fund has been extended to Friday, 26 February.

The previous deadline was 19 February. This will allow principals an extra week to apply for a share of the R496 million lifeline. The R496 million fund has been established to assist ECD facilities – including crèches, daycare services and nurseries – that have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the application process opened on 5 February. Many of these facilities couldn't open for months due to government regulations. After reopening, many pupils did not return due to financial constraints at home.  The department came under fire when the C-19 People's Coalition's ECD and Basic Education Working Group called for an extension of the deadline.  C-19 spokesperson Colleen Daniels-Horswell pointed out that two weeks were not enough for ECD school principals to submit applications and that many were struggling to navigate the application process. She pointed out that by Monday, only 9,717 out of 29,836 ECD principals/owners who had started the application process had successfully completed their applications. The application process needed to be streamlined, said Daniels-Horswell, as the digital platform through which principals needed to apply made the process difficult for those without computer literacy.  The department said that any ECD service that required assistance could visit the local social development offices.

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