Zodidi Mhlana & Solly Makganoto
JOHANNESBURG– Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Thursday said that the country’s child support programme has played a crucial role in reducing poverty over the past years.
Dlamani made the remarks while honouring social grants beneficiaries living in child-headed households who performed well during the 2017 matric examinations.
“Our social assistance programme which is well targeted at the poor and vulnerable has been central to poverty alleviation in South Africa. What we are doing today is not an exaggeration effort, it is proof that grant money that comes from South African taxes is working. We are going to continue collaborating with other departments to ensure that we have full programmes for young people. There are departments that we have to work closer with so that we are able to point at the developments of each and every child in South Africa,” she said.
Some of the learners who were honoured were part of the Isibindi programme, which “deploys trained community-based child and youth care workers in communities” to provide care and developmental support to vulnerable children and families.
Dlamini said research conducted on South Africa’s social grant system showed that the programme was assisting children to remain at school for longer and tackling drug related problems among young people.
“The National Developmental Plan (NDP) calls for all children to enjoy services and benefits aimed at facilitating access to nutrition, healthcare, education, social care and safety. Extensive research has been done on the impact of social grants system, including the child support evaluation study by Unicef, show that social grants have a positive impact on school attendance and health care. It shows that the child
support grant significantly reduces adolescent behaviour such as unprotected sex, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, criminal activity and gang related activity,” Dlamini said.
According to the Basic education department, 79,7% of the learners who are grant beneficiaries passed their 2017 exams.
Over 5000 learners grant beneficiaries who wrote the exams last year received distinctions.
Dlamini said that there was a need for all children to be enrolled at Early Childhood Development Centres.
“We want to follow our children from EDCD level, so that we don’t come in Grade 12 and demand a lot. We want to motivate families to take their children to ECDC centres. When children are given opportunities, they perform like all other children. We remain hopeful that as we witness an increasing number of children from poor household excel in their studies, we will also witness them breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty in
the long- term and social protection,” Dlamini said.
She said that the progress that social grants beneficiaries were making at institutions of higher learning was pleasing.
“I’m pleased to inform you that out of 23 000 social grant learners who applied for NSFSA last year, 14, 177 were granted bursaries to further their studies at universities and TVET colleges. It’s important for us to monitor how the money works,” she said.