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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - NIDS-CRAM Working Paper
Title Early childhood development in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from NIDS-CRAM waves 2 - 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2021
Globally, large international organisations have been tracking school closures and learning losses due to COVID-19 induced lockdowns. Yet few studies have been conducted to assess how childcare
markets or access to early childhood development (ECD) opportunities have been impacted by COVID-19, especially in low-to-middle-income countries. Using a longitudinal telephonic survey of
adults, known as the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), this paper provides empirical evidence from South Africa on ECD attendance trends since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 to May 2021. Pre-pandemic, about 39% of respondents living with children aged 0-6 indicated that at least one child had attended an ECD programme in February
2020. After a series of troughs in reported ECD attendance to as low as 7% in July/August 2020 and early February 2021, interspersed with temporary partial recoveries, a very significant recovery is seen by May 2021. In the fifth NIDS-CRAM data collection period between 6 April and 11 May 2021, ECD attendance had edged much closer towards pre-pandemic attendance levels. Of respondents
living with children aged 0-6 at the time of the April/May 2021 interview, 36% reported that at least one child aged 0-6 had attended an ECD programme in the past 7 days. Analysis of the NIDS-CRAM
data series also reveals that parents’ or caregivers’ ability to afford ECD fees and pay these fees will continue to be the key determining factor for sustaining and improving access to ECD programmes in the absence of wider and deeper public financing for the sector.

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