3 May 2012
South Africa plans to recruit up to 10 000 service providers over the next three years while expanding early childhood development centres as the government moves to assist child-headed households in the country.
Speaking to BuaNews in Cape Town on Wednesday ahead of her department’s budget vote in Parliament, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said the child and youth care workers would care for those orphans of up to four-and-a-half years old, noting out that the first 1 000 days of a child’s life were crucial in their development.
The Department of Basic Education would be responsible for assisting orphans older than four-and-a-half years.
Her department had been allocated an additional R1.4-billion over the next three years to help cover the recruitment of services provided as well as the expansion of early-childhood development centres, with most of this amount to be channelled through the provinces.
She appealed to provincial departments to focus on disbursing as much of their budgeted allocations as possible to orphans.
‘We must create a more caring community’
Dlamini said South Africa had more than a million orphans and the country needed to break the stigma of child-headed households. Some children were orphaned when, for example, one parent died after contracting HIV and another was killed in a road accident, while others were abandoned.
The minister said South Africans needed to create a more caring community, in which everyone’s child was theirs too, so that extended family members could take care of orphaned family members.
Other South Africans could become foster parents and adopt children, she added.
Support from family and community members was important for those sidelined in society, such as orphans and those who were physically challenged, she said.
She pointed to a fellow pupil she grew up with, who had down syndrome yet would pass with the same marks as she got, thanks the support she received from her family.
‘There is no dustbin for orphans’
At a breakfast function earlier on Wednesday, attended by about 50 orphans of child-headed households, mostly from rural areas and townships, Dlamini applauded her deputy minister, Bongi Ntuli, who is an orphan herself.
Ntuli became emotional as she described how department officials had picked up a newborn child yesterday.
“There is no dustbin for orphans”, she said, adding that, thanks to those that had taken care of her, she had become the person that she was today.
“I am what I am because somebody took care of me,” she said, telling the orphans that if they wanted to be someone in life, having the right attitude was necessary.