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Universal Children's day Debate

Input by MEC Alvin Botes on today's House Sitting Debate on Universal Children's Day, 14 NOVEMBER 2012
The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide.

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Apart from the Universal children’s day; the UN has also set aside the International Day of Children; the International Day of families; World Day against Child Labour; and the Day of the African Child.

On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and on November 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights.

Honourable Speaker,

The People’s Movement, the African National Congress has always been emphatic about its love for the children of the revolution. The Freedom Charter of 1955 encapsulates the future of tomorrow, and with it, a better life for our descendants. It speaks about a South Africa who belongs to all who live in it, black and white. Four out of the Ten clauses of the Freedom Charter has been dedicated to ensure yesterday’s child has a brighter future tomorrow.

The Freedom Charter provides in its 2nd clause thatAll National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights There shall be equal status in the bodies of State, in the courts and in the schools for the African, Indian, Coloured and whites as far as their national rights are concerned. All people shall have equal right to use their own languages, and to develop their own folk culture and customs. This is what the Charter embolden 20 years before the 1976 June uprising, where it said allowed the youth access to their own language choice. They did not listen, and beard the consequences.

In its 7th clause the Freedom Charter states that There Shall Be Work and Security: where the Charter underpins the fact that no child should be used as a labourer. It further provided for equal opportunity for young boys and young girls to know that they will receive equal pay for equal work, notwithstanding their gender or race. The Charter recognised the need of bonding between a mother and her child and thus called for the implementation of maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers. I wonder how many of the mothers and fathers, of the opposition have ever thanked the ANC for the Freedom Charter?

The 8th clause of the Charter underpinned the fact that The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Open and reminds the custodians of apartheid ideology that the introduction of a racially motivated ideological education; a lowering of standards; the emergence of tribal colleges; and the intensification of racial separation in university education can no longer be tolerated. Nor can the majority of the people continue not to be taught Science and technology; or be subjected to derisory type of training of doctors and other medical personnel. It provides for increased access of Educationthat shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children, and Higher education and technical training that shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships

The 9th clause says There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort: It speaks about infant mortality rate; the need for Free medical care and hospitalisation, with medical care for mothers and young children. It highlights the need for newresidential developments withproper facilities for children, such as playing fields, crèches and social centres.

Honourable Speaker,

I have attempted to bring to fore what the ANC is about, then back in 1955 our profound consideration has been our people and our children…as it was back then, is now, and ever shall be. At the same time, back then in 1955, the apartheid government was seized with the task to promulgate the Group Areas Development Act, of 1955. I am saying Honourable Speaker, that back then in 1955, those opposed to change were busy with the wrong things…they were not worried about our children…the same forces opposed to change today are not disappointing their political grandfathers…they too are busy with the wrong things…of trying to look smart at the expense of our people’s genuine grievances.

Honourable Speaker,

Be it as it may, the revolutionary struggle is in its infancy. It will be a long, hard road. Democratic South Africa is ageing into the prime of its teenage years, and we look forward to its coming of age, shortly. The scars which has been inflicted over more than 300 years of oppression, cannot easily removed even over two decades of democracy. (Some things in life are not as simple as using toner to remove base!)

For decades, education in South Africa operated under the shadow of the Bantu Education Act of 1953. Children who are born to poor parents and grow up in poor households are likely to remain poor, and in this way the inequalities of apartheid are reproduced, resultant in what we call inter-generational poverty. This is the role which apartheid has cemented for itself in our everyday life.

Honourable Speaker,

South Africa’s social assistance system is better developed than those of most middle-income countries. This is in line with section 27(1) of the Constitution which states that “everyone has the right to have access to … social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance”. In the wake of the global financial crisis the first thing that normally happens is that children drop off the policy agenda of political leadership. This is normally what happens. But because the ANC is no normal political party, but a people’s movement for radical social transformation, it did what normally is least expected. It took a decision to extend and implemented the Child Support Grant until the age of 18 years. This amidst the global crunching and scarcity of resources.

Honourable Speaker,

Because of this abnormal decision taken by the ANC Government, it provided a safety net to almost 300 000 children in our province, at a cost of almost 100 million per month. We have done so due to our firmed commitment and recognition that improved child poverty rate is one of the most important of all indicators of asociety’s health and well-being.

The proportion of Northern Cape people benefitting from grants increased from 13% in 2001 to 34% in 2010 when there were 375 185 social assistance grant recipients in the province. Social grants are the main source of household income for 23.7% of Northern Cape households.

One of the most effective ways to address child poverty is through the provision of social grants, similar to the child grant provided to needy children in South Africa. The child grant provided R250 (in 2010) each to 258,953 poor Northern Cape children every month. Increasing the age eligibility of the recipient children during the past decade (0-6 years in 2001 to 0-17 years in 2010) resulted in a ten-fold increase in beneficiaries.’ (Reducing Poverty, A decade of Achievement Northern Cape: 2000-2010, Department of Social Development, 2011)

‘There is significant evidence to suggest that outcomes for children growing up in poverty are worse than for those who have enough. Research in the UK has found that pregnancy rates among teenage girls living in the most deprived areas are six times higher than among those living in the most affluent areas. Moreover, 73% of 18-35 year-old South Africans who had a childhood where there was not enough money for basic things such as food and clothes had never had a job, compared to 41% of those who had a childhood where their family had extra money for things such as luxury goods and holidays.’(First Steps to Healing the South African Family, South African Institute of Race Relations)

Child poverty has a historical and dialectical relationship between child poverty and a long list of individual and social risks – from impaired cognitive development to increased behavioural difficulties, from poorer physical health to under-achievement in school, from lowered skills and aspirations to higher risks of welfare dependency, from thegreater likelihood of teenage pregnancy to the increased probability of drug and alcohol abuse.

Honourable Speaker,

A commitment to protecting children from poverty is therefore more than a slogan or a routine inclusion in a political manifesto; it is the hallmark of a civilized society.In order for any of us to appreciate the centrality of today’s children in shaping a better Northern Cape of tomorrow, I thought it prudent that all Members of the Legislature should be taking into confidence into what constitute the over-arching picture of the Northern Cape Child.

Honourable Speaker,

What is the demographic portrait of our children?

Child populace in the Northern Cape: 37.26% of population is also younger than 18 years
Orphans in the Northern Cape: (children) in 2010. Black African Children account for 61.7% of the children in this province, followed by 34.10% is classified as Coloured, 4.0% as White and 0.2% as Indian/Asian.
In the Northern Cape, there were approximately 14 500 ‘double orphans’ (3.4% of total children in Northern Cape)), ±41 000 paternal orphans (9.6%), and ±16 000 (3.8%) maternal orphans in 2010. Levels of violent deaths could help to explain the prevalence of paternal orphans over maternal orphans.
Child-headed households : Even though almost forty percent (36.92%) of all children in the Northern Cape are orphaned, the low percentage (0.3% in 2010) of children living in child-headed households suggests that orphaned children are probably absorbed into existing households; alias Ubuntu
Single –parent households: While only thirty percent (31.1%) of Northern Cape children consistently lived with both their parents, about 41.1% lived with only their mothers. Less than three percent (2.9%) of children lived exclusively with their fathers. A quarter of all children (25.0%) lived with neither of their biological parents.
Child poverty: the proportion of Northern Cape people living below the poverty line has declined from 40% in 1995 to 27% in 2008, while the poverty gap was 11% in 1995, compared to 8% in 2008.Furthermore, Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Northern Cape children and 60% of the province’s youth aged 15-24 years live in such low-income households, while 35.6% of the province’s older persons live in households with an expenditure of less than R1,200 per month.

Honourable Speaker,

We have a clear program on building today’s child for a better and brighter tomorrow.

On Encouraging education: The introduction of no-fee schools, primary school nutrition and provision of school uniforms has encouraged enrolment at schools. Participation in primary education by children aged 7 – 13 years stands at 99.1%. The proportion of Northern Cape children aged five years and older attending school and not paying fees has increased to 47.4%.

On Child Nutrition: The National School Nutrition Program provides school nutrition to 87% of Northern Cape children, and reached 162,438 learners in 522 Northern Cape primary schools; 78,655 learners at 226 secondary schools were also reached; vegetable gardens were established at 314 schools.

On Child development initiatives: The Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) Scheme, which assists malnourished children younger than five and pregnant and lactating women, addresses hunger through a take-home nutrition supplementation program. This nutrition scheme reached 6,345 children younger than six months; 18,318 between six months and five years old (27% of children under five); and 22,307 persons older than five.

Early childhood development (ECD) programs: Under the careful watch of the ANC government, the number of children exposed to ECD stimulation has the past decade increased and 40,000 children were reached.

Honourable Speaker,

We have been doing everything possible to realise a better and brighter future for our children, because we have always been inspired by fathers such as O.R. Tambo who said`A country, a movement, a people, that does not value its youth, does not deserve its future`.

I thank you.



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