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No. ECD WP 002/2021
ECD Working Paper Series
Ilifa Labantwana &  RESEP


This paper is primarily concerned with identifying demand and supply-side constraints that negatively affect the enrolment of children early childhood care and education (ECCE) programmes in South Africa. The primary data set used in this analysis is the 2018 General Household Survey, as collected by Statistics South Africa. Supporting data on ECCE programme location and other characteristics are obtained from the Early Childhood Development Audit data of 2013 to further explore the impact of geographical marginalisation and ECCE supply constraints on enrolment probabilities. Our preliminary findings on enrolment suggest that household socio-economic status, proximity to an ECCE centre and the mother’s educational attainment are positively associated with pre-primary education enrolment. Additionally, the presence of at least one economically inactive adult in the household is negatively associated with enrolment rates. South Africa’s persistently high unemployment rate therefore poses some risk to the immediate future of ECCE enrolment if ECCE access is expanded without sufficient consideration of the role that economic duress and vulnerability play in household decisions to enrol children in early learning programmes.


The Ilifa-Resep ECD Working Paper Series is a collaboration between Ilifa Labantwana and Research on Socio-Economic Policy (RESEP) at Stellenbosch University. The working paper series aims to promote research that addresses the major systemic issues facing the ECD sector in South Africa. Key themes of the series include: financing and funding, labour, nutrition, ECD governance, regulation, economics of ECD, the household environment, and developmental outcomes of children. The series will contain research papers that address any of the components of the ECD essential package – early learning, parent and caregiver support, nutrition, maternal and child health, and social protection.