Parliament, Monday, 22 November 2021 – The second public hearing by the Portfolio Committee on Social Development held in Vryheid on the Children’s Amendment Bill [B18 -2020] concluded with overwhelming support for the Bill. Participants underscored that the Bill will fill the identified gaps in the principal act and ensure the protection of children’s rights.
The committee is on a nationwide public participation process to garner views, as obligated by the Constitution. The Vryheid hearings were the second of four hearings scheduled in KwaZulu-Natal.
Despite the overwhelming support of the Bill, participants nonetheless raised concerns about the lack of adequate infrastructure for early childhood development (ECD) centres leading to a poor and unfavourable environment for teaching and learning. Also, there was a concern that infrastructure remains inaccessible to children with disabilities, which undermines their rights.
Representatives from non-profit organisations (NPOs) dealing with children’s rights were critical of the lack of funding for infrastructure, which impacts on their ability to function and provide services to the community. They called for the Department of Social Department to add a line item for infrastructure development when funding NPOs.
A fervent call was made to the Department of Social Development to assist ECD managers to register their centres. In order to comply with registration requirements, the department needs to provide financial and administrative support, as well as necessary information. Also, there is a need to provide skills development programmes to ECD practitioners and managers to enable them to operate their centres effectively. Participants further called for setting up of minimum educational requirements for ECD practitioners as a way of ensuring qualitative education.
Some participants also called for a complete ban of child marriages. Moreover, there should be effective monitoring to ensure that this practice does not take place even when children themselves want to get married. Parents who encourage child marriages should be prosecuted.
Human trafficking was also raised as a serious concern requiring closer collaboration between the South African Police Service and communities.
Similar to other districts visited by the committee, there was strong support for the entrenching of equal parental rights for all parents. This, according to participants, will ensure that fathers are protected and are able to care for their children.
The enhancement of the foster care and adoption processes before the placement of a child will ensure that children are placed in an environment that is safe and secure, and also conducive for their development. It will also ensure that the child is welcomed and accepted by all family members, so that when adoptive parents pass away, the child will still be treated as a member of the family.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, MS NONKOSI MVANA.
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