More than 90% of the Eastern Cape’s children never get to attend early child development centres‚ largely because their parents cannot afford to pay the school fees or ferry them to the nearest crèche.

The provincial government has now allocated R264m to fund these centres‚ said social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi.

She was responding to questions by DA MPL Kobus Botha in the Bhisho legislature last week.

Other reasons she cited for the problem included a lack of suitable transport to ferry disabled children‚ and too few centres in informal settlements and rural and farming areas.

Sihlwayi’s responses angered opposition parties.

Out of 870‚900 preschoolers in the province only 53‚700 attend early child development centres.

The highest nonattendance is experienced in the Alfred Nzo area followed by OR Tambo and Chris Hani districts.

Zameka Mgwebi‚ a mother of two who is a contract worker‚ said the centres were expensive even though they were sponsored by the state.

"We want to take our kids to the centres but they are not free and we just simply cannot afford them‚" she said.