The Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) presented the Combined 2nd, 3rd and 4th periodic State Party Report on implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), covering the reporting periods 1998 to June 2012. It was explained that when the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities was established in 2009 it was discovered that the 2002 and 2007 UN Reports, although prepared, had never been submitted to the UN, and South Africa had also never submitted any reports to the AU. Permission was sought and obtained to submit a combined report and this was due for submission in July 2013. The draft had been published for public and Parliamentary comment, a final draft would be drawn in April, and submitted to Cabinet in May. It would include feedback on previous UN comments. The AU Report would contain a slight difference of emphasis. Because of restrictions on length, it essentially contained high-level data. Two NGOs would be submitting alternative reports to this Portfolio Committee.
The DWCPD explained that there had been national and provincial consultation, and that local government and non-government entities also participated. However, there were a number of department who had failed to make submissions, and particular concern was expressed that the Department of Defence, despite numerous requests, had failed to respond on the Optional Protocol on Children Involved in Armed Conflict.
There were general observations that South Africa had a good legislative framework, and that sufficient policy and legislative frameworks were in place. However, reporting by the state needed to improve, and intersectoral coordination strengthened. Monitoring and evaluation also needed to be strengthened. It was found that children in poverty were getting preferential support, and the statistics for children living in poverty, children experiencing hunger and malnutrition, children, including disabled children attending school, children living in formalised housing and those with access to piped water, electricity and sanitation were given. There was a key concern around child marriages highlighted by the UN for the last report, and DWCPD recommended that the legislation on child marriages should be amended so that no marriages were permitted under 18, and that the age of criminal capacity be increased to 12 years, in line with AU recommendations. DWCPD was concerned at the wide variation of allocation of resources to implement national policies and programmes, said that poor quality of services at provincial level frustrated access for the most marginalised children, and that there was still inadequate data. Under civil rights and freedoms, it was noted that in practice there was limited right of access to information, particularly in rural areas, and concerns that corporal punishment at schools had increased. The links between poverty alleviation strategies, child care and protection systems and social security benefits must be investigated critically, to find more sustainable interventions and prevent the same families circulated in different schemes. Abuse and neglect remained of concern, and there were also still far too few social service practitioners. There were still health and disability constraints, with inequality in morbidity and mortality rates according to income and geographic divisions. There were similar inequalities also in education, compounded by backlogs and dropout rates. Psych-social support was needed at schools by qualified social workers, and the Departments of social Development and Inequality were asked to address this. Finally, it was suggested that child- focused performance indicators should be included in the Performance Agreements of Ministers, and child issues must be mainstreamed to address the transformative agenda. Cooperation and coordination mechanisms at national, provincial and local government levels had to be strengthened, and systems developed to monitor and track planning, budgeting, implementation and spending on children.
Members noted the difficulties in producing the report, and questioned why disaggregated data could not be provided. Several Members expressed concern at the fact that other departments had not responded, asked how the information had been conveyed to them, questioned if the lead-up was sufficient, and whether there had been appeals to the Executive. The Committee expressed willingness to assist, and Members suggested that this Committee could put them to terms, or perhaps even consider fining those who had not responded. Members thought that it would be important to include line-item expenditure on children in all departmental budgets, approved of continued engagement with civil society, and fully agreed that the end objective was not the Report, but the upliftment and improvement of children’s quality of life.
The afternoon session, the Departments of Basic Education, Justice, Health and Labour explained the measures they were taking to ensure the rights of the child, as contained in the Convention, were being made real.
Chairperson’s introductory remarks
The Chairperson noted that the time pressures for the Country reports meant that the planned public hearings could no longer take place. The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD or the Department) had indicated that there was urgency on the reports. However, the Committee had engaged with civil society in the preceding week, although it admittedly was somewhat insufficient.
South Africa’s combined Report (2nd, 3rd and 4th country reports) on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child (UNCRC) and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, covering period 1998 to June 2012: Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities briefing
Mr Mzolisi Toni, Acting Director General, Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities, stated that the Department had made sure that its combined 2nd, 3rd and 4th Country Report covering the period 1998 to June 2012 (the Report) was made public, thereby enabling a public response. The Department hoped to complete that process by the 22 of March 2013.
Dr Roseline September, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, reminded the Committee that, as alluded to in the previous presentation, the Report now presented would also go to the African Union (AU). It also served as a platform for engagement to alert the South African public, Parliament and government to the necessary imperatives in accelerating transformation on the rights of children.
She noted that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified by South Africa on 16 June 1995. Two optional protocols were also ratified, namely the Optional Protocol Prohibiting the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Pornography (30 June 2003), followed by the Optional Protocol on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (24 September 2009). South Africa had not ratified the new Protocol on Communication. It was the intention of the Department to ask for comments and interest from different government departments and civil society on the position on the Optional Protocol on Communication within the next six months.
South Africa had an obligation, in terms of Article 44 of the UNCRC, to report periodically on measures adopted and progress made in regard to children’s rights. When the DWCPD was established, the new Minister found that the second and third UNCRC reports were completed in 2002 and 2007 respectively, but had never been submitted. Cabinet was informed of this on 21 September 2011, and approved the submission of a combined report in 2013. The UNCRC Secretariat was informed of ,and had approved the request that South Africa would submit a consolidated 2nd, 3rd and 4th Report by June 2013.
Subsequent to the Cabinet approval, the DWCPD established an inter-Departmental Committee to coordinate and monitor the delivery of child rights, as also to oversee the UNCRC and the African Charter. This Department had engaged with other departments in a strict and comprehensive process during 2011 and 2012. A set of guidelines was developed and a call for submissions was made in February 2012. A discussion document, emanating from departments’ input, was released for public comment on 5 July 2012.
The structure of the report followed the general guidelines of the UN and included discussions on general measures of implementation, definition of a child, general principles relating to the rights of the child, civil rights and freedoms. Also covered were the family environment, basic health and welfare, education, sport, leisure and cultural activities, special protection measures in the state of emergency, children in conflict with the law, situations of exploitation and minority groups. The report included reference to the signed and ratified Optional Protocols and provided feedback on their implementation.
46 countries had ratified the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) with South Africa doing so on 7 January 2000.The purpose of the Charter, similar to the UNCRC, was the harmonisation, implementation and monitoring of the realisation of children’s rights in Africa. South Africa had to report on progress every three years, to the African Union. No report had been submitted thus far, but South Africa intended to make this first, admittedly late, submission in 2013, to the Expert Committee.
Dr September explained that the Expert Committee on the ACRWC was established in 2001 and located within the Social Affairs Commission. Its mandate extended beyond that of the UNCRC. This Committee was able to hear representations on individual cases. It was able to conduct country visits, and held thematic seminars and conferences on issues involving children. It would, annually, determine the theme for the “Day of the African Child”.
The content of both Reports was to be similar, but there would be a slight difference of emphasis, since the ACRWC placed special emphasis on the Responsibilities of the Child (Article 31), Harmful social and cultural practices (Article 21), Children of imprisoned mothers (Article 30) and Children who needed special protection on account of being in risky or vulnerable conditions. The Department’s consultation processes for this ACRWC Report accordingly placed specific emphasis on these articles of the African Charter.
Dr September noted that consultation took place at both national and provincial levels. National consultation began in October 2011, with the establishment of the Inter Departmental Committee who had overseen the process. The input dates were extended, to ensure that all departments did make comments, and a meeting of all relevant Chief Directors had been held to ensure that the content of the input was communicated as intended. The process was concluded in a national workshop, and the Report was sent to Director-General Clusters for verification.
At a provincial level, the draft Report had firstly been sent to all the provinces, followed up with a two day workshop hosted by the Office on the Rights of the Child, along with the Premiers’ Offices, in all the provinces. Provincial government and local government were invited to attend the workshop. The non-government sector had also participated in the provincial and national consultation workshops.
The Report took into account and directly addressed the UNCRC Committee’s Concluding Observations on the last country report, which was submitted in 1998. The Report, because of the restrictions on length, focused on high level developments. The statistical data was provided in Annexures 1A-1H and, due to the extended period of reporting, a supplementary narrative was included in Annexures 2A-2N. Two non-governmental organisations had indicated that they would submit alternative reports to the Committee on the implementation of the Convention. The Department had not seen their reports but expected to hear of their contents shortly.
The Department extended a general vote of thanks to other departments that had worked with it and submitted inputs, which were the Departments of Social Development, Justice and Constitutional Development, Basic Education, SAPS, Labour, Tourism, Defence, Health, Public Enterprises, Rural Development and Land Reform, National Treasury, Home Affairs, Correctional Services, Water and Environmental Affairs, Transport, and Science and Technology. Submissions were still outstanding from the Departments of Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Co operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Communication, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Energy, Economic Development ,Trade and Industry, Public Works and Mineral Resources.
It was the intention of the Department to submit the report on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the UNCRC Report simultaneously to Cabinet, as the first one contained responses to the questions raised in the UNCRC. It was of concern that DWCPD had been unable to secure any response from the Department of Defence on the Optional Protocol on Children Involved in Armed Conflict.
The DWCPD had some general observations on the country’s progress in relation to children. Government’s pro-poor policies had meant that children in poverty were getting preferential support. The number of children living in poverty decreased from 73% in 2003, to 60% in 2009. There was also a decline in the number of children experiencing hunger and malnutrition, from 34.7% in 2002 to 18.6% in 2010. School attendance by children aged 7-14 had increased to 99%. However, these were the statistical trends only, and the qualitative issues of inequality were not sufficiently addressed. Children with disabilities that were attending school had increased by over 20% between 2002 and 2010. 56% of school-going children did not pay fees. The percentage of children living in formalised housing had increased by 6% between 2002 and 2010. Those having access to piped water increased from 54.7% to 61.8 % in the same period. Access to sanitation for children had increased by 10%. Access to electricity increased by 13%, to 83% by 2010.
Dr September then discussed each part of the Report. Part 1 spoke to the general measures of implementation. Here, it was found that South Africa had established an impressive legislative framework and policies to implement and accelerate the realisation of children’s rights, in line with the UN and AU instruments. The country had ratified all major instruments on children. Key legislation to safeguard children’s rights had been adopted. It was noted that sufficient policy and institutional frameworks existed, more so after the establishment of the DWCPD, which was tasked with the co ordination, monitoring and promotion of children’s rights. The National Plan of Action for Children and the Monitoring and Evaluation framework provided for an integrated framework to set goals for the delivery and monitoring of children’s rights. However, the reporting by the state needed to improve, to strengthen linkages between laws, policy and implementation. It was recommended that South Africa ratify the Convention on Social and Economic Rights. Also, the need was identified for intersectoral coordination to be strengthened, as well as the monitoring and evaluation systems. Engagement with government departments indicated that there was an urgent need for all departments to critically assess the capacity of their monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and competencies required to meet reporting demands. Improved systems would also result in improved evidentiary-based delivery. The information systems were generally poor. The monitoring and evaluation units and programme divisions of departments were not effectively aligned to produce the data needed. There was a need to strengthen the alignment between national, provincial and municipal monitoring and evaluation indicators. There was also the need for a comprehensive framework and uniform database that was equipped to track trends on child wellbeing. To this end, the Department had developed a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Children’s Rights and Well-being, which included an initial core set of indicators, which would be presented to the Committee in the following weeks.
Part 2 of the Report dealt with the definition of the child. Here, the DWCPD had highlighted a key concern around child marriages. The legislation provided that children under the age of 18 may marry, subject to their age, the fact that they had consented, and that their parents or the Minister of Home Affairs had also consented. Both the UNCRC and the ACWRC had placed substantial emphasis on this issue in their last observations and reports to South Africa. They made a call to improve upon the requirements for the minimum age of marriage, as a large number of children under the age of 18 were permitted to marry notwithstanding the detrimental consequences. DWCPD called for support in promoting non-acquiescence to marriages under-age, under any circumstances. The position was different for boys and girls of different ages, as well as differing according to civil or customary marriage regimes. Child marriages persisted, and there was disregard of the age limits for male circumcision and female virginity testing, despite intensive consultation with traditional leaders and communities during the development of the Children’s Act. The Child Justice Act of 2006 had increased the age of criminal capacity from 7 to 10 years, whereas the UNCRC had recommended that it be 12 years. DWCPD therefore had recommended that the legislation around marriageable age be amended, to bring it in line with the AU recommended age of 18 years, and also suggested that the age of criminal capacity must be brought in line with the international standard of 12 years.
Part 3 dealt with general principles, and under this part the DWCPD wanted to highlight a number of issues. There were wide variations, at provincial and district level, in the allocation of resources to implement national policies and programmes. The quality of the services frustrated access to services and benefits for the most marginalised children. The implementation of a number of the targeted pro-vulnerable policies and programmes had been impeded by poor inter governmental and inter departmental coordination. Inadequate data collection systems had made it problematic to address access and quality for the most marginalised children. The State had implemented a host of structural interventions to ensure the alignment and equalisation of commitments, funding and outcomes for vulnerable children, using strengthened coordination mechanisms and a stronger monitoring and evaluation framework.
Part 4 touched on civil rights and freedoms. It was highlighted that there was limited right of access to information, especially in predominantly rural areas and areas of high poverty, because of infrastructural problems. Historical backlogs had resulted in insufficient public libraries, particularly in marginalised areas. Only 32.9% of households had internet access in 2011. In 2011 it was noted that 17.2% of learners reported corporal punishment in schools, compared to 16.8% in 2009, and the DWCPD implored that teachers be given and should use alternative means of disciplining.
Part 5 spoke of the family environment, and noted the emphasis on family reunification in the Children’s Act of 2005. The DWCPD highlighted that the links between poverty alleviation strategies, child care and protection systems as well as social security benefits, were to be investigated more critically, in order to find more creative and sustainable interventions to improve the child care capacities of indigent families. The DWCPD believed that the same families were being circulated in different governmental poverty alleviation schemes, so that closer alignment between strategies was necessary. Abuse and neglect, as covered in Articles 29 and 39, remained points of major concern. Drastic measures were needed t address the scourge of violence, exploitation, and murder of children. One key issue that impacted on the delivery of services to support families, and alternative care for children, was the shortage of suitably qualified social service practitioners, and the lack of resources to pay them. DWCPD recognised that the Department of Social Development (DSD) was attempting to address then, as the principle that social work should be designated as a scarce skill had been raised at various Portfolio Committees already.
Part 6 on health raised implementation constraints as an issue. Despite the lack of centralised disability legislation, various laws and government strategies had been developed during the reporting period. However, there still remained many challenges with regard to the rights and needs of people with disabilities, as the Committee would recall from a recent presentation on disability. Inequality continued to inform child health outcomes as well as the distribution of morbidity and mortality. Higher mortality presented in rural areas, and affected Africans as well as the poorest quintiles. In light of this, the DWCPD commended the new Integrated School Health Programme.
Part 7 set out the implementation constraints in terms of education. Variability and inequity in infrastructure, compounded by backlogs, were key problems, particularly in the schools serving poor, often rural, communities. This was coupled with a high dropout rate of between 3.5% and 11.8 % for learners after Grade 9, and the low 41% of learners that were retained to complete a further education cycle. In 2011, only 1.6% of matriculants had attended FET colleges. The psycho-social support services embodied in the school health systems required strengthening, although they were a step in the right direction. DWCPD bemoaned the lack of school social workers, and appealed to the Portfolio Committee to place this concern on record. Furthermore, it asked the Departments of Social Development and Education to address that anomaly and said that an equitable provision must be made for social workers in the secondary levels of education. Finally, children’s participation in the education system required strengthening.
The final recommendations were to include child focused performance indicators in the Performance Agreements of Ministers. They should be mainstreamed into the national performance assessment frameworks which were aligned to National Treasury, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as monitoring and evaluation regulations. If this was not done, then the transformative agenda of children would not be addressed. There was a need to strengthen cooperation and coordination mechanisms at national, provincial and local government levels within the Department’s institutional framework of Child Rights mechanisms, to monitor and track planning, budgeting, implementation and spending on children. Finally, there was a need to strengthen monitoring and evaluation capacities within all government departments so that adequate, reliable and timely data on child rights could be generated.
Dr September concluded by noting the timeframes. The Report was submitted to Cabinet, and subsequently would be released for Parliamentary and public comment, until 22 March. By the end of March the consultation process would be complete. The final draft would be done by April, ready for submission to Cabinet in May. Printing and dissemination would be done in June. The report was scheduled to be deposited with the UN and AU, via the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, by 15 July 2013.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for an encouraging report. She acknowledged the difficulties of producing this report, given the substantial time lapse between submissions, although the reasons for that remained unclear.
The Chairperson asked about the reference to an incomplete report presented in November. She also noted that on a previous occasion, the Committee had requested that the disaggregated data be supplied to Members, for use in their oversight. This report had displayed skewed figures as to the departmental budgets, and there was a lack of detail on departmental spending on child-focused activities. She also asked why there was no concluding annexure that dealt specifically with the observations of the UN.
Dr September explained that the observations were dealt with in the introduction to the Report. All of the substantive chapters of the Report began by making a reference to the relevant observation. The Department had spent extensive periods with National Treasury on the budgets, but the problem was that the structure of departmental budgets did not itemise interventions for children, so it was impossible to fixt these figures. She noted that for the future it would be imperative to introduce a template or mechanism to specify government departments’ spending on children.
Ms E More (DA) asked what DWCPD would do in relation to those departments who had not made their submissions, and how much follow-up it had already done, particularly with the Department of Defence.
Dr September wished to convey the extent of her personal follow up and harassment of departments for their inputs. The Minister had signed and sent numerous letters, all Director-General Clusters were given the Report and the discussion document. It must be noted that these Clusters were the specific governmental architecture designed to house inter-departmental discussion and input. The fact that such input was still outstanding was of great concern.
Ms I Dishetelo (UCDP) also expressed concern at the non compliance of departments with submitting input. She asked whether all the outstanding submissions would be received by June, in time for the scheduled printing and dissemination. She also questioned the blank tables and pages in the Report.
Dr September indicated that the empty statistical data tables were purposely included, to convey the lack of data, and the intention was to alert government departments to the urgent need to generate such data. The final Report that the UN would receive would not contain empty tables.
Ms C Diemu (COPE) was also concerned about the ten departments that had failed to submit. She wanted to check which national departments, provinces and premiers, and local government offices were involved in the consultation process. She suggested that the Committee should impose a time frame for the submission of the outstanding departmental reports, failing which they should be warned that some course of action would be taken.
Dr September was not certain of the level of detail in the consultation reports at this stage although all of the nine provinces were consulted. The Minister had written urging every premier to arrange for consultation in their respective province. The Office of the Rights of the Child was specifically tasked to work with the Premiers’ Offices in the consultation process, and the Department had gone out of its way to stress the importance of the process. The main issue was the country’s attitude and subsequent commitment with regard to the Report. At the moment, the submission of the Report was seen as merely a technical exercise. The Department maintained that it had done its part. Extensive invitations were made, yet the participation list left much to be desired.
Mr D Kekana (ANC) advised that if the Department was unable to collect the requisite reports, it should detail every step taken to procure those reports, including entreating the Ministers, so that the Committee was satisfied that the Department had exhausted all available avenues. He enquired as to whether the report from the Department of Defence also would cover veterans.
Dr September acknowledged the suggestion of engaging not only the Committee but also the Chief Whip and the Chairperson of the House, in compelling departments to report. DWCPD would indeed be appreciative of any assistance from the Committee. She reiterated that the main issue was not that the country must draw a Report, but that it must take children’s’ issues seriously. The Report spoke specifically to how South Africa honoured the UN commitment to protect women and children and other vulnerable civilians in times of armed conflict. The Optional Protocol that was signed and on which the Department was to report pertained specifically to children in armed conflict, but input was yet to be received from the Department of Defence.
Ms M Tlake (ANC) said that she would have found exact figures, rather than percentages, more useful when comparing the issues. The Report also made mention of policies, yet there was no reflection of the situation of children on the ground. She wanted more clarity on that.
Dr September explained the percentages were for summary purposes. The substantive data was provided in the annexures of the Report. She also noted that the details on the ground could also be found in the Report. She had given a more generalised address, for the purposes of this presentation.
Mr Toni concluded that one of the lessons learned by the Department when compiling the report related to how best to deal with blockages when developing a report. Collaboration and cooperation with departments required the DWCPD to be quite upfront, to guide each department on the relevant Articles on which it needed to report, and to internalise the system, with the aim of treating children in a more respectful and substantive manner. The DWCPD had considered how to improve the capturing of data, and was working with Statistics South Africa as well as Unicef on that issue. He hoped that there would be a substantial improvement in the engagement with other departments and that they would begin to take the processes seriously.
Ms Ditshetelo asked why there were no figures on the reported cases of abuse and maltreatment of children who were arrested, detained or imprisoned. She seemed to recall that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had submitted a report.
Dr September clarified that the blank spaces were not only an indication of where departments had not submitted reports, but also indicated areas where no data existed, and where it was still being collected.
Ms Tlake noted the remark that other departments were showing little compliance, and asked whether the DWCPD believed it had done adequate awareness campaigns to publicise and emphasise the importance of the Report, in advance. She said that if the departments were only contacted to demand reports, they were bound to be quite negative and stressed that the process should have been more inclusive and the high expectations that DWCPD had of other departments should have been backed up with better advance warning.
Dr September noted that in order to assist departments, the DWCPD had submitted a monitoring and evaluation framework in the preceding weeks, which was yet to be presented to this Committee. It detailed the stakeholders with whom DWCPD would be working, the indicators and other relevant information. A monitoring and evaluation task team was to be established, which would include all the departments, with the aim of working from a single indicator list that would collect the information necessary for the effective planning and delivery of child services. This new monitoring and evaluation tool would assist all departments in better detailing their budget spending on children. Over the past two years, the DWCPD had developed guidelines on reporting requirements, for departments. It had physically visited and communicated with each department, and had also disseminated other communication tools, such as details of the AUCRWC and UNCRC background and requirements. Numerous presentations and workshops were done on each of the reports and requisite data. However, DWCPR recognised the need to intensify its communication efforts, not only with the national departments, but also with the provinces and the communities at large.
Dr September added that the process of engagement with the public would not cease with the submission of the report. Once again, she stressed that the pertinent issue was not the Report itself, but the status of children in South Africa. Entities still had the opportunity to engage constituencies on the report and on future plans. Such processes would be instrumental for the next report for 2014/15, and it was possible that a supplementary report may be needed.
The Chairperson said it would be important to show line expenditure on children in the departmental budgets. She approved of the continued engagement with civil society, and fully agreed that the end objective was not the Report, but the upliftment and improvement of children’s quality of life.
Department of Education (DBE) submission
Dr Shermain Mannah, DBE Director: Social Cohesion, Community Mobilisation and Equity in Education, spoke on the right to education, South Africa's education expenditure (6% of GDP), and its efforts in improving access to education. It had achieved near universal primary school enrolment rate of 99% in 2011. It spoke about the mitigating measures it had taken to promote inclusion and retention of children in schools and to improve the quality of education for all. Also presented was what DBE was doing for human rights and civic education, for improving cultural and linguistic rights of children (article 30) and for recreation, cultural and artistic activities (article 31).
In conclusion, the Department noted it had developed the Action to plan to 2014 towards realisation of schooling 2025 to realise the rights of the children and improve the quality of education. DBE was working collaboratively with relevant government departments to ensure that the rights of children were realised. Further, the Department had a close working relationship with UNICEF and UNESCO.
The Chairperson asked for the difference between the early childhood development (ECD) scheme run by Social Development and the Education department.
Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) noted that the report was silent on the numbers of students with disabilities and wondered why this was so, even when they were adequately provided for in the statute. She pointed out that the numbers of disabled students should be accounted for.
Ms I Ditshetelo (UNDP) questioned the department about the neglect of the schools for children with disabilities. The teachers there were complaining about the neglect and lack of facilities. The cost of testing reading as conducted in the schools, was not stated. She asked about the interaction between private schools and the Department as it was not made known in the report. With respect to the percentage quoted for achieving success in an examination, she queried whether this achieved quantity or quality.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) questioned DBE about the ongoing application of corporal punishment in schools despite the ban on it. She asserted that about two million children still endure such treatment in the schools. With regards to the draft policy on play and leisure for children, she asked when the policy would be implemented as it seemed the department was not desirous to implement this.
Ms E More (DA) asked how the Department provided for the treatment and training of refugee children and the progress made so far. As stated in the report with reference to the annual national assessments (ANA), what exactly was the pass mark, as in her view, performance was still poor. She commented on a scenario where a child would be able to deal with taking three languages.
Mr D Kekana (ANC), expressing his opinion on the idea of learning in one's mother tongue, suggested that the best way was education in the local tongue which would afford the children the right to learn properly.
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) submission
Ms Kamogelo Lekubu-Wilderson, DoJCD Director: Victim Support and Specialised Court Services, spoke about the interventions and achievements of the Department, as well as the challenges confronting it. Salient amongst the interventions and achievements included capacity building, public education and awareness, plus mechanisms in place as to safeguard and promote the rights of the child. The challenges were seen as:
· Reduction of the rate of diversion of children in terms of the Child Justice Act;
· Non-funding or inadequate funding for NGO’s that were or are assisting courts with the execution of non-custodial sentencing programmes for children in conflict with law;
· The need to merge the National Child Protection Register with the NRSO
· The need to amend SORMAA to create an enabling provision for the re-establishment of Sexual
· Offences Courts (to improve response to sexual violence perpetrated against children)
· Improper costing of legislation.
In conclusion, she stated that there was a need to bridge the gap between legislation and implementation. However, without an inter-sectoral response and allocation of a dedicated budget, this goal cannot be achieved.
Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) referred to slide 7 in the submission and asked where it was applicable to the poor. Of interest and concern to her would have been to see the actual statistics for child offenders as she wondered how problematic the situation was.
Ms C Diemu (COPE) questioned the apparatus in place to safeguard children, both as victims and witnesses, under the law.
The Chairperson asked when the Department was going to comply with the statute.
Ms Tseke, referring to slide 28, asked about current cases involving child trafficking.
Department of Health (DoH) submission
The Committee complained about the lateness and method of the Department’s submission. The Department representative apologised, attributing this to receiving the information late and thus having to prepare the submission in a hurry.
The submission looked at child survival, growth and progress. The statistic as to their cause of death and diseases was elaborated. The Department paid attention to the various means available for child’s survival. The intervention and the challenges of the department were well appreciated.
The submission looked at Article 6 on Survival and development and discussed child survival in South Africa. Maternal and child mortality rates were noted. Three Ministerial Committees had been appointed to investigate maternal and child mortality. The submission looked at why children died and the Department of Health’s responses to these causes. The Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) priorities and the priority measures taken for newborn interventions were discussed. Improvements in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) was noted as the most important reason for declining mortality rates. The new measures introduced for Child Health Services was outlined. The submission also looked at Youth Health and Mental Health. The submission concluded that child mortality rates were falling and further strengthening of services at community, Primary Healthcare (PHC) and hospital levels would result in further declines.
Ms Ditshetelo raised concern about the delivery of medical aid to women and children in remote rural areas, as well as policy in place for legal abortions and terminations of pregnancy.
Ms Petersen queried the department as to a deficiency in their statistics, as the statistics were not in-depth especially where it concerned the rural areas.
Department of Labour
The Department apologised for the absence of the Director General and not forwarding the submission on time to the Committee.
The submission centred on child labour and the results of the Survey on the Activities of Young People (SAYP) undertaken in 2010. It looked at its measures taken for safeguarding the child from labour by means of its child labour enforcement policy. It had ratified the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No 182 of 1999. It noted the Regulations on Hazardous Work and the Farm Workers Sectoral Determination as it affected the youth. The Department concluded by looking at specfic child labour cases between 2010 and 2012 and the action it had taken.
Ms Petersen, taking note of page 4 of the submission, asked what has been happening to the Labour sector concerning children from 2006 till date, as the statistic in the submission was last updated in 2006.
The Department commented that periodic evaluation occurred every four years and not every year. The latest evaluation results were currently expected shortly.
Ms Ditshetelo referred to the labour demonstrations in the Western Cape and the presence of children alongside the demonstrators. She asked what the Department was doing to tackle child labour. She said that the availability of labour inspectors would go a long way to address child labour on farms.
With respect to the demonstration, the Department noted that most of the children there were protesting on behalf of their parents and hence it was difficult to single out the child labourers in the crowd. The example of children helping their parents to hawk farm produce was noted. The law kicked in when the child was denied the opportunity to study but instead had to work, work beyond his or her capacity or against the law. Labour inspectors were available but access to the farms was difficult as the farm had to be notified before such visits.
The Chairperson took note of the discrepancies in the submission. She said more questions would be sent to the department for clarification.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Children's Rights Country Report to the UNCRC
- Department of Social Development presentation
- Observations on the Draft UNCRC Country Report
- Department of Home Affairs presentation
- Department of Health presentation
- Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities presentation
- Department of Basic Education presentation
- Department of Justice & Constitutional Development presentation
- Outline of Consultation Process
- UN Convetion or Rights of the Child Country Report
- Summary of Key Observations Emanating from Draft Periodic UNCRC Country report
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