National Assembly: 1 June 2010
Today the world community join hands in
observing International Children's Day, to amongst other things
renew our commitment to improving the lives of our children around
Each year, the significance of the
celebration of International Children's Day lies in the fact that we
examine how far we have come to better the lives of our children.
This also gives us an opportunity to espouse a fresh vigour in the
level of engagement so that we continue to prioritise issues
affecting our children and continuously strive to find ways of
improving their standards of living. We also strive to improve the
lives of children by seeking innovative solutions to eradicate
As we celebrate the International Children's
Day today, it is of utmost importance that we look very critically
at our progress in promoting children's rights in our country. While
it is important to co-operate and to comply with International
agreements; we dare not forget that our most important
responsibility lies in ensuring that South African Children's rights
are protected at all costs.
In terms of our Constitution a huge
responsibility lies on the State to put in place systems and to take
positive action to ensure that all the rights entrenched in our
Constitution do not only remain on paper, but that they are
implemented; and above all our children should enjoy their rights.
The link between education and public health
is strong: according to the Global Campaign for Education, if all
children received a complete primary education, as many as 700,000
cases of HIV could be prevented each year.
According to recent studies, AIDS kills over
2 million people a year or about one person every 15 seconds
worldwide. This death toll shockingly includes a lot of children,
who are often infected with HIV during pregnancy or through breast
feeding. The toll is worst in Africa, where millions of parents have
died, leaving children as orphans. It is very sad that HIV/AIDS
deprives children of their parents.
Recent estimates put the figure of orphans
in Africa in the range of thirteen to fifteen million children. If
the children left orphaned are not given the care and education
enjoyed by those whose parents remain uninfected, there will be
increasing inequality among the next generation of adults and the
families they form. One of the more unfortunate responses to a death
in poorer households is removing the children from school, often
because the school uniforms and fees become unaffordable for the
It is hard to overemphasise the trauma and
hardship that children affected by HIV and AIDS are forced to bear.
The epidemic not only causes children to lose their parents or
guardians, but sometimes their childhood as well.
The IFP is of the view that the South
African government should expedite means to strengthen and develop
community structures which can assist in providing care and
protection for children from discrimination, exploitation and any
other physical or emotional harm.
It is extremely important that girl children
have access to education. I am saying this very mindful of the fact
that the majority of our children, especially in rural areas are
still taught under trees. These are just some of the obstacles that
prevent our children from getting access to quality education.
It is important to note, that women with
some formal education are more likely to seek medical care, ensure
their children are immunized, be better informed about their
children's nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation
practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher
survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.
The IFP is extremely concerned about the
recent deaths of 17 babies in our public hospitals almost on the eve
of the International Children's Day and this is testimony to our
day-to-day outcry that our public health facilities are not equipped
to provide proper healthcare for all, especially the most vulnerable
of our society.
Another critical issue facing children which
should be viewed in a serious light, especially in the context of
the World Cup, is the trafficking of children. This needs to be
given the necessary attention it deserves.
The IFP calls on the Minister for Women,
Children and Persons with Disability in conjunction with other
relevant clusters to put stringent measures in place to reduce the
risk of child trafficking during the Fifa sports extravaganza.
I wish to conclude by quoting Ann Landers
when she said: "In the final analysis it is not what you do for your
children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that
will make them successful human beings."
I thank you!
Ms Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi MP
078 186 3619