by Mike Waters

Are all children on social grants attending school?

Lack of co-ordination between departments of social development and basic education

Are all children on social grants attending school?

It has recently been revealed that the department of social development is struggling to monitor whether children receiving social grants are, in fact, attending school.

The administrative mishaps of the department have rendered the Social Assistance Act and its regulations useless and meaningless. Minister Bathabile Dlamini is to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Social Development to explain why these regulations are not being implemented.

In 2009, the regulations in terms of the Social Assistance Act were amended in section 6 to require that a child receiving a social grant is attending school. Failure to attend requires the department to send a social worker to investigate the reasons and take appropriate steps to ensure the child is enrolled at and attends school.

The purpose of ensuring that children who are receiving grants are in school is so that they can get an education and improve their situation in life. It is based on the Bolsa Familia model used in Brazil, which uses conditional cash transfers to lessen the problems associated with poverty and ultimately invest in human capital in the long term to reduce poverty.

The department stated that it is flooded with thousands of report cards, but currently does not have the capacity to record them. It added that it has not received any reports from the department of basic education nor has it received any reports for investigation.

In a country where around 320 000 children between the ages of seven and 15 do not attend school, it is hard to believe that no cases have been reported for investigation.

There appears to be a lack of co-ordination between the departments of social development and basic education to ensure these regulations are implemented and children are attending school. It has taken the departments three years to sign a memorandum of understanding to monitor the situation.

The minister must report to Parliament to explain why these regulations are still not being implemented and how she intends to solve the problem.

Every child should be in school, and the department of social development must play its part in ensuring children are not denied education due to their socio-economic circumstances.

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Issue 23


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