Save the Children told the Committee it believed that every child deserved a future, and that the organisation provide children with a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. It had offices in five provinces -- Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga (partly) and the Free State. It recognised that children’s rights were part of human rights, and focused its attention on marginalised children. The goal was to increase access to early childhood development (ECD) services, to improve teacher and ECD practitioner competencies in literacy and mathematics, to develop the existing ECD centres into multi-purpose centres of excellence, to enhance access to inclusive education services for children with barriers to learning, to help communities to support schools and teachers to improve learning outcomes.
If sexual violence against children was to be reduced, their chances of suffering from anxiety would decrease by 6%, drug abuse by 14%, HIV by 5%, self-harm by 12% and interpersonal violence by 3% for males and 7% for females. A decrease in emotional abuse against children would reduce serious mental illness by 5%, anxiety by 10%, alcohol abuse by 4%, drug abuse by 5%, self-harm by 15% and violence by 3.3%. If neglect was reduced, depression would decrease by 16% for males and 9% for females, anxiety by 8%, alcohol abuse by 14%, drug abuse by 4% and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by 6%. Violence against children had economic burdens as well, leading to reductions in average monthly earnings. South Africa had lost R238.58 billion because it did not respond to violence.
The Committee Members asked why the organisation operated in only five provinces, because it had been around for a long time. How did it fund its study projects? What did it actually do to assist children upon discovering that they were being abused? Did it work with schools or with communities? Did it have enough skilled personnel to operate effectively? What plans had it made to ensure that special needs children were enabled to enter the education system? What was the organisation doing to prevent teachers who had previously committed assault from carrying on teaching in schools?
Ms Gugu Ndebele, Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Save the Children, said the organisation believed that every child deserved a future. In South Africa and around the world, the organisation gave children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. It had offices in five provinces -- Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga (partly) and the Free State. It recognised that children’s rights were part of human rights, and focused on marginalised children, protected the rights and holistic needs of children, and advocated for children.
Ms Gugu Xaba, Programme Director: Save the Children, said that all children benefited from early childhood and development (ECD), as well as basic education. The goal was to:
- increase access to ECD services;
- improve teacher and ECD practitioners’ competencies in literacy and mathematics;
- Improve the existing ECD centres into multi-purpose centres of excellence;
- Improve access to inclusive education services for children with barriers to learning; and
- Help communities to support schools and teachers to improve learning outcomes.
The reality of a child’s protection was that they were exposed to families where substance abuse or absence of a responsible adult may be a factor. They may also be in communities where there were negative cultural practices and high levels of employment and a society where there were inadequate systems to protect children, and weak protection against abuse in general.
If sexual violence against children was to be reduced, their chances of suffering from anxiety would decrease by 6%, drug abuse by 14%, HIV by 5%, self-harm by 12% and interpersonal violence by 3% for males and 7% for females.
The decrease of emotional abuse against children would reduce serious mental illness by 5%, anxiety by 10%, alcohol abuse by 4%, drug abuse by 5%, self-harm by 15% and violence by 3.3%.
If neglect was to be reduced, depression would decrease by 16% for males and 9% for females, anxiety by 8%, alcohol abuse by 14%, drug abuse by 4% and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by 6%.
Violence against children had economic burdens as well. Because of physical abuse, there had been an 11.7% reduction in average monthly earnings, and because of emotional abuse there had been a 9.2% reduction in average monthly earnings. South Africa had lost R238.58 billion because it did not respond to violence.
To prevent violence against children from occurring, effective and skilled professionals were required, good quality ECD was needed, all stakeholders involved needed to be educated, and role models were needed. To manage it once it had occurred, response to reported cases should be of good quality, psychosocial support should be provided and complications should be managed.
The Chairperson said the Department of Social Development should have been invited to the meeting, because it could work well with this organisation.
Ms C Majeke (ANC) asked why the organisation only operated in five provinces, because it had been around for a long time. How did it fund its study projects?
Ms J Basson (ANC) asked what the organisation actually did to assist children upon discovering that they were being abused. Did it work with schools or with communities, and what relationship did it have with its stakeholders?
Mr D Khosa (ANC) asked what needed to be done to ensure that this non-governmental organisation (NGO) was visible in other provinces. How many skilled personnel did it have, and how many were needed? Do it work with the South African Police Service (SAPS), because he had witnessed two children who were reporting a case at a police station who were being treated badly, and something had to be done about that.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) asked the NGO to share its plans, and how it intended to implement them. What plans had it made to ensure that special needs children were enabled to enter the education system? 55% of children suffered from physical abuse -- how many suffered from sexual abuse, and how many were the heads of homes?
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked what Save the Children was doing to prevent teachers who have previously committed assault, from teaching in schools. There should be a system that ensured that they were detected. What was it doing to ensure that children were actually at school, and to ensure that pit toilets were eradicated?
Mr D Mnguni (DA) asked whether the NGO worked with other educational institutions to enhance its work. Did it have enough capacity to perform all its programmes?
A Member asked the extent to which the NGO found favour with its decision makers. How was it ensuring that its work reached other provinces, How was it funding its work?
Save the Children’s response
Ms Ndebele responded that the NGO operated in five provinces because of funding and capacity. It worked with schools in the provinces where it did not have offices. As an NGO, it spent time writing proposals to the European Union (EU) and the United States (USA) for funding. It worked with other corporations as well. It also fundraised because institutional funding was restricted to certain provinces. It worked with the Department of Basic Education, as well as children’s rights centres.
A joint campaign would be a great idea, because it was would be able to reach other constituencies through it. Save the Children had a register system so that before other sectors worked with it, it could check their credibility through Social Development to ensure that the people it worked with had clean records. Schools needed a digitised system that would allow them to check for teacher credibility before they worked in schools.
As an NGO, there was only so much that Save the Children could do. It was good at what it did, but departments should not abdicate their duties to it. The issue of pit toilets was not just a physical matter -- there were other socio-economic factors at play.
Save the Children had developed a package to improve education. The Free State had been using it and it had helped. There were workshops and training for teachers who implement it. When there is little support for teachers being trained at universities, the success rate becomes low. Save the Children works with Funza Lushaka to recruit matriculants to study education, and provides them with support, and the pass rate is around 94%. In provinces, it works with provincial departments of education, SAPS and Social Development. It reaches out to train officials on children’s rights. The organisation did not have much capacity, but was strategic about how it conducts its work.
Mr Richard Montsho, Child Rights Governance: Save the Children, added that schools and homes were far apart so the organisation worked with municipalities to ensure that they created a safe path for children to access schools, and child friendly services were being worked on at police stations.
Sexual violence was at 26%, and child-headed households amounted to around seven million in 2014. There was no study yet on how transport to schools affected violence, but this would soon be done. The organisation was working on an inclusive education package for both abled and disabled children, but there was more work to be done in that area.
Ms Boshoff asked whether the organisation worked with the South African Council of Educators (SACE).
The CEO responded that the organisation had recently established a working relationship with SACE, and it was a work in progress. The reason why it worked with the Free State was because it was the most responsive, compared to other provinces.
Save the Children had dialogues at the community level, trying to drive the notion that one could end violence if each and everyone played their role. The Minister of Social Development had signed a document to make South Africa a pathfinder country. The NGO also worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi suggested that the organisation should send the Committee a document on its achievements, or should come back and give a presentation of what it had achieved.
The Chairperson thanked the organisation for its presentation.
Consideration and adoption of reports
The draft report on the petition of the Edenvale area was considered. Mr Khosa said that there were three schools that were within a radius of two or three kilometres from Greenstone, and some learners could be accommodated there. There was no reason to build a new school. He recommended that the conclusion be the recommendation. He moved the adoption of the report, and Ms Basson seconded the motion.
The second and third quarter performance reports, and the reports on the National Teaching Awards, the release of National Senior Certificate (NSC) results, and the MECT dialogue on decolonising South African schooling, were adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Committee Report on Basic Education on Second and Third Quarterly Reports on Performance
- Committee Report on Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2017
- Committee Report on Petition from residents of Greater Edenvale in Gauteng
- Violence against children: The cost of inaction to our society and economy policy brief
- Social and Economic Burden of Violence Against Children in South Africa Report
- Save the Children South Africa presentation
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