The Department of Basic Education commissioned the ECD Census 2021 to collect data on all Early Childhood Development programmes to obtain a clear picture of the early childhood development landscape in South Africa. The ECD Census 2021 counts all ECD programmes (registered and non-registered).
The data will be used to integrate ECD into the Education Management Information System (EMIS). The information will also enable planning for greater inclusion of children with disabilities and the delivery of integrated health and safety programmes. The Department of Basic Education is responsible for the ECD Census, supported by the Department of Social Development, funded by the Lego Foundation.
Kind of Data
Census/enumeration data [cen]
Unit of Analysis
Individuals and institutions
Version 2: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
The DBE replaced the original deposit with data files with all the variables meant to be released. In accordance with our versioning policy, re-releases are versioned with a whole number so this dataset is version 2.
Data collected on ECD facilities includes registration of the facility, the geographical location of the site, basic infrastructure (access to roads, electricity, toilets, water) and special equipment. Other facility level data collected includes the financial base of the site, the nature of the site (school-based, home-based or community based), its sustainability (how long it has been operating), its operating hours, and key aspects of the educational activities at the site. At the educator level, the audit collected data on all educators at the site, including their age, gender, race, highest school grade, highest qualification, teaching experience, and monthly salary. Data was also gathered on learners at each site, including the total number of learners disaggregated by age group, race, and gender. Data was also captured on the number of learners with disabilities and the nature of such disabilities.
The data is provided in a data file labelled ecdcc-2021-public which has 42420 cases and 269 variables. Variable information for the ECD Census data can be seen by selecting the "Data Description" tab and the relevant data file in the online metadata record.
Early childhood development
Early learning centres
The survey had national coverage.
The lowest level of geographic aggregation of the data is suburb/neighbourhood.
The universe of the study included Early Childhood Development facilities, and educators and learners at these sites.
Producers and sponsors
Department of Basic Education
Government of South Africa
Department of Social Development
Government of South Africa
National Early Childhood Development Alliance (NECDA)
Nelson Mandela Foundation
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
The two data collection instruments were a questionnaire and an observation form to complete on the facility.
Public access data for use under a Creative Commons CC-BY (Attribution-only) License
Department of Basic Education. Early Childhood Development Census 2021 [dataset]. Version 2.Pretoria: DBE [producer], 2021. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/KBNX-MA29
Version 01 (March 2023): This metadata was downloaded from the DataFirst website (https://www.datafirst.uct.ac.za/dataportal/index.php/catalog/central) and it is identical to DataFirst DDI version (zaf-dbe-ecdc-2021-v2). The following two metadata fields were edited - Document ID and Survey ID.