SA kids robbed of childhood
SOUTH Africa ranks in the middle index of countries where childhood is most threatened, according to Save the Children’s latest report, “Stolen Childhoods”.
“Of the 172 countries looked at, South Africa comes out 103rd, which is not good enough for a country like South Africa,” said Save the Children International chief executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt. “We want to put a focus on why.”
The former Danish prime minister was speaking at an early childhood development centre in Stjwetla, Alexandra yesterday. Her visit coincided with International Children’s Day as well as Child Protection Week.
The report identified seven childhood enders: death, school dropout, hindered growth, pregnancy, victim of extreme violence, labour and marriage.
At least 700 million children have had their childhood abruptly ended, according to the report.
South Africa has the highest child-homicide rate outside Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a South African supplement of the report.
For Save the Children South Africa (SCSA), the report helped sharpen the focus of its programmes on the first five factors, said chief executive Gugulethu Ndebele.
“As a South African, I think we’ve gone numb on the issues of children. We think that a hashtag there and a slogan here is going to sort out what is fundamentally wrong with children,” Ndebele said.
Norway, Slovenia and Finland topped the list, which ranked the best countries to have a safe childhood.
Although eight African countries fared better than South Africa, the bottom 19 countries were African, with Niger last.
Thorning-Schmidt engaged with pupils at the centre, joining them in playing with building blocks, having a tea party and doling out high-fives.
The centre, where ThorningSchmidt released the report, opened in 1989 without basic services but today has electricity and running water.
Donors have funded a kitchen, and flushing toilets and bathroom sinks are being installed.
The pupils, aged 3 to 6, are a part of SCSA’s preschool programme, which focuses on a holistic three-pronged approach: nutrition, education and child protection.
For a monthly fee of about R100, Ndebele said, the centre’s 50 children receive breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. They have a safe space to play, solve puzzles, and learn to read and write. They’re also taken for immunisations.
“The most important thing is they learn to be responsible for themselves and they learn to communicate with others,” said principal of the centre Jacobeth Moikanyane.
The SCSA runs another centre in Mpumalanga.
CHILD’S PLAY: Save the Children International chief executive Helle Thorning-Schmidt meets kids at the early childhood development centre in Stjwetla, Alexandra.