Making ECD Systems Flow.

Focus Area

Quality Early Learning Programmes

Innovation Lever

Public sector systems


 Proof of Concept



Inspired by the private sector, factory-style workflow boards are used to provide a visually effective way to identify blockages within the system of registering Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres with the Department of Social Development (DSD).

The Problem.

 There are an estimated 40 000 ECD centres in South Africa and each one must be assessed and registered with the DSD at least every five years – a massive administrative hurdle, with the registration of each site taking up to 12 months. If the centres are not registered, they are not able to access government funding and other support intended to improve the quality of their service.

The registration process needs to be simplified. Blockages need to be identified and addressed, demands on the system need to be quantified, and a myriad of stakeholders need to be fully engaged. Cost-effective and practical solutions to these issues will ensure that all ECD centres are recognised, supported and accountable within Government systems.

The Innovation.

In partnership with DSD and Ilifa Labantwana, we drew inspiration from the private sector to find simple solutions to improve registration systems efficiency.

Low-tech workflow boards are often used in the private sector as visualization tools. They have been shown to improve work efficiency and flow in factories across the world, because they clearly show what blockages in the system need to be addressed, and when.

The use of factory-style workflow boards to assist in highlighting blockages in the South African ECD registration system was piloted at two Government Social Development offices in Kwazulu Natal and four in the Eastern Cape.

The ECD workflow boards break down the registration system into a number of simple steps – from site identification to issuing a registration certificate. Blockages in the registration process are quickly identified and easily prioritised so that efforts can be focused on the key constraints within the system.

For further resources on workflow system innovation view the Bhalisa Inkulisa Project Report here.  This project aimed to drive universal access to early learning through the improvement of the partial care registration systems of the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development (DSD).

Why we invested.

In addition to the primary benefit of easily identifying blockages in the ECD centre registration system, we also wanted to show that businesses, large and small, have the potential to leverage significant social impact through the utilisation of their core assets. Moreover, we believe that they can do this in ways that are fundamentally good for business. This investment, along with ‘Pivoting Business Processes for Business’ and ‘Sifunda’ forms part of a stable of investments, which showcase this Shared Value proposition.

The Project Team

Network Action Group (NAG) is a network of grassroots organisations in the Ugu District of Kwazulu Natal. Their aim is to strengthen management and leadership in the CBO and NGO sectors, working closely with government departments.

Ilifa Labantwana works to secure an equal start for all children living in South Africa, through universal access to quality early childhood development.