Braakspruit – While progress has been made in improving the lives of South African children, government is looking at how it can increase the support it provides to them, says Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Speaking to media at the launch of Child Protection Week at Braakspruit Farm in the North West, the Minister said the department is looking at creating a programme that will follow their progress from the age of 18.
This as the current child support system, or social grants, cease at when a child turns 18.
“We are trying to create a vehicle that will be able to carry our kids from the age of 18. There must be a vehicle that will help them start a life like other children,” said Minister Dlamini.
Earlier, the Department of Social Development conducted community dialogues with children in the Matlosana District Municipality in which the community of Braakspruit Farm falls.
Highlighting the importance of the annual commemoration of Child Protection Week – which this year is being commemorated from 28 May to 5 June 2016 – Minister Dlamini said the week will be used to speak to children.
“This week we will be talking to our children about their protection. We will also be speaking to parents about children’s protection and about other things that are quite problematic like child trafficking and child abuse,” explained the Minister.
The week will also be used to highlight government successes in improving the lives of children.
“There are kids who are now working that [made use] of grants, there are those who are still in institutions of higher learning,” said the Minister.
The department also wants to consolidate Childline and community members will be able to report people who abuse social grants.
“It will now [operate] for 24 hours for children to be able to call us,” explained the Minister.
The Department of Social Development is also consolidating its list of child- and youth-headed households so as to ensure that they don’t fall through the cracks.
Addressing both children and their parents at a large marquee set up for the launch, Minister Dlamini appealed to parents of children with disabilities and children with albinism not to be afraid to contact the department for any assistance.
The Minister also engaged with children on issues of bullying and alcohol abuse.
Earlier in the day, the Minister visited the Daisy Day Care Centre which is located in the area. The centre is run by Gladiso Morole, who said the centre opened in 2013 and is currently looking after 17 children between the ages of 2 and 6.
Speaking to SAnews learner from Letlhasedi Combined School, Kelebogile Letshelle, said all children have a right to be protected and not to be abused. “Children also have a right to stay in safe places,” said the 15-year-old.
Since its inception in 1997 Child Protection Week has continued to raise awareness, educate and mobilise sectors to care and to protect children.
This year’s commemoration is being celebrated under the theme: “Let us all protect children to move South Africa forward”.
Child Protection Week is also being commemorated in the year that South Africa commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 16 June 1976 uprisings.
On 16 June 1976 students from Soweto took to the streets in response to the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools. On that day police shot at the children with the first learner to be shot and killed being Hector Pieterson.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) which administers social security services to beneficiaries.
“This year we celebrate 10 years of SASSA and we want South Africans to see how far their solidarity has gone in improving the lives of children,” said the Minister.