Media release

Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster Media Briefing

26 September 2016

26 September 2016

Thank you for attending this media briefing. It is indeed an opportunity for us to update the nation about the progress we have made especially in the social protection and human development area of our work as government. 
This briefing takes place at a time when Ministers are occupied with various programmes around the country and internationally.

Yesterday South Africa celebrated National Heritage Day under the theme: “Celebrating our Human Treasures by Asserting our African Identity”.

Government used the month to encourage South Africans to take pride in their country’s living heritage and play an active role in affirming, promoting and preserving it.

By harnessing the uniqueness of our shared heritage we can help to build the country of our dreams. We must work hard to break down all artificial barriers that divide us"

Tomorrow again is also Comrade Winnie Mandela’s Birthday as she turns 80 years, and there will be celebrations to mark this important milestone in the life of a stalwart. It is for that reason that many of my colleagues are not able to join us here today. However, moshito o tswella pele!

In 1994 a new nation that embraced the heritage and shared culture of all South Africans was born. Our diverse cultures, languages and religions should not be seen as impediments to national unity.

Over 20 Community Dialogues were conducted during the first quarter in various provinces. Reports thereof are being compiled.

Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) has been working on implementing the Official Languages Act for the promotion of our indigenous languages for nation building and social cohesion. Government Departments have been given over a year to set up Language Units in order to provide services in three most utilised languages in their respective provinces. Majority of National Departments have complied by adopting their language policies.

Poverty Alleviation Initiatives

The National Development Plan (NDP) has set a target to eradicate absolute poverty – from 39 percent of people living below the poverty line to zero by 2030. It is a lofty goal and yet one that must be faced head on as we set to deliver on our promises. 

Government is continuing to improve the living conditions of poor, vulnerable and underprivileged South Africans from within the length and breadth of our country.  These include unemployed South Africans as well as orphaned and vulnerable children living in child headed households. We do this as part of our response to the current economic downturn which is affecting all of us.

Through Social Assistance Programme which is part of the country’s Social Protection System; more than Seventeen Million poor South Africans are receiving social grants from government entity – South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to the value of Ten Billion Rand per month.  It is worth noting that this year; SASSA is celebrating ten years of its existence.

Social Security Reform Policy

The social cluster Cabinet Committee reviewed a proposal for Amendments to the Social Assistance Act.  These amendments include, amongst other aspects; changes to the administration of social grants that will improve the efficiency of the Appeals process and the functioning of the Inspectorate. The amendments also seek to empower the Minister to make additional payments for certain social grants- such as Child Support Grant to orphaned and vulnerable children living in child headed households. 

We have set ourselves a target to reduce unemployment rate to 6% – by creating 11 million more jobs by 2030.

The EPWP Social Sector continues to play a significant role in responding to the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. This fact was confirmed in the recently completed EPWP Social Sector 2014/15 Evaluation report by Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. This report found that “Over the past five years on average 71% of participants were women and 51% were young people.

The good performance of the various Social Sector departments has resulted in the EPWP Incentive Grant allocation increasing from R240 563m in 2015/16 to a whopping R359-million to 40 departments in 2016/17 across all provinces.

This is a huge boost to our efforts to fight the scourge of unemployment especially amongst the youth.

Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in Child Headed Households (CHH)

Government remain committed to providing care and support for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children living in Child and Youth Headed Households through Isibindi Programme.  To date, the latter offered training for Child and Youth Care Workers to render direct psycho-social support services to 10 472 children in their homes. 

To ensure that these orphaned and vulnerable children are easily accessed and do not fall into the cracks; government has developed a Child and Youth Headed Households Register.  The register also enables social workers on the ground to provide intervention services and allocate adult supervision for these children.  Such interventions also afford children to access and realise their rights similar to their counterparts. 

Social crime prevention and substance abuse

Government is aware that there is a shortage of quality substance dependency treatment services in the country and we are responding accordingly.  Currently there are seven substance abuse public treatment centres in the country which are not are not fairly accessible to all provinces.  We are in the process of establishing six additional treatment centres to ensure that at least each province has one public treatment facility.  In the current financial year, government plans to open substance abuse public treatment centres in Eastern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Free State provinces.
A comprehensive national audit of all registered and unregistered treatment centres and halfway houses in the country has been accomplished.  The audit enabled us to determine the country’s capacity to treat people with substance abuse and challenges relating to registration of unregistered treatment centres.  These centres are encouraged to register so to comply with the minimum requirements for registration. Government will not hesitate to take legal action against those treatment centres which do not register not comply with the minimum requirements for registration. 

The NDP states that by 2030, people living in South Africa should have no fear of crime.  “Women, children and those who are vulnerable should feel protected.”  As a result, gender based violence continue to receive government’s focussed attention.

The 24 hour toll free Gender Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre:  provide a much needed telephonic counselling to victims of GBV services.  South Africans can call the GBV on 0800 428 428 or dial *120*7867# on their cell phones to be contacted by a social worker. 

Between January and August this year; the Command Centre received more than 31 496 calls.  These calls dealt with varied types of GBV related cases such as domestic Violence; Rape, Physical Abuse, Indecent Assault, Verbal Abuse and Intimidation as well as Abandoned Children.  Other cases included Stalking, Economic Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Forced Marriages, Forced Prostitution, Forced Abortion, Human Trafficking, Exploitation of Domestic Workers, Abuse of Elderly, Incest and violence against foreign nationals.

It is critical to emphasise that gender based violence can only be eradicated through collaborative efforts in all sectors of society. 

Chapter 9 of the NDP is clear about what we need to do in the education sector. We are required to provide good quality education for all our children and indeed the youth. 

Higher Education

Our universities currently face serious challenges in terms of funding.  At the same time, large numbers of South Africans are currently finding it difficult to access post-school education because of the financial challenges they as individuals or as families face.
Government is aware of these challenges and takes them very seriously. Indeed, government remains firmly committed to progressively realise free post-school education for the poor and working class, as called for by our Constitution, and to assist middle class families who are unable to pay.
The effects of last year’s moratorium on fee adjustments and the extra costs associated with insourcing have both added to these challenges.
Our immediate and pressing task is to ensure that as we continue to improve access to post-school education and strengthen the quality of learning and teaching. We have made provisions which have been carefully considered and designed to address the challenges we face. We should give the Presidential Commission looking into the matter of fees to conclude its work.

Gangsterism in Schools
In the basic education sector progress has been made on a whole range of issues.

We are however concerned about the growing incidents of gangsterism in schools.  This is often coupled with the prevalence of drugs and violence. Gangsterism is having a severe negative impact on the education system. It must be reiterated that violence and drugs will not be tolerated, especially at schools. Schools must use the policy in place to carry out drug tests on learners.

There is also a protocol between the Department of Basic Education and the South African Police Service which should be nurtured and utilised to maximum effect at the school level.  We all need to work together in our communities to ensure that schools are safe spaces of teaching and learning. We cannot let our schools denigrate into facilities that become dangerous for learners and teachers. This will take all our involvement to ensure that this does not happen; we cannot leave it to schools to fight this battle alone.

Grade 12 final examinations

There has been a steady increase in the overall matric pass rate to reach 71 per cent in 2015.

As Government we are ready and prepared to run the Grade 12 final examinations.

There are 677 141 registered full time and 150 183 part-time candidates in 2016 examinations; 9 000 more than in 2015.  KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have the largest enrolments again with 169 769 and 112,069 respectively. Limpopo has 102 618 and the Eastern Cape 89 740 candidates that have registered for the 2016 grade 12 exams.

One of the exciting developments is that there is a significant increase in pure mathematics as opposed to maths literacy.  Meaning that the interventions in the promotion of Mathematics as a subject of choice are now bearing fruits.

We have also put in place interventions to prevent leak of examination papers.  All storage points across the country will be audited to ensure that they meet the minimum security standards. Storage points that do not comply will not be allowed to store exam papers.

School infrastructure

We are changing the education landscape and restoring dignity to our learners through delivery of school infrastructure across the country.

As part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative or ASIDI government unveiled state-of-the-art schools every week, built or refurbished at a cost of between R35 million and R50 million each in the last quarter.

Since its inception, the ASIDI initiative led to the completion of just over 170 schools out of a targeted 510 around the country - with 126 of them situated in the Eastern Cape.

The schools, which are mainly constructed in rural and underprivileged urban areas, come standard with a science lab, computer lab, media centre, rain water harvesting tanks, nutrition centre and fully functional administration block with offices and staff room.  A further 126 schools are at various stages of implementation and 54 of those schools will be completed in the course of the 2016/17 financial year. 

It is worth noting that all ASIDI schools meet the minimum norms and standards and, in some cases, exceed these requirements. To this end, an additional 615 schools have been provided with water, 418 with decent sanitation and 307 with electricity. In schools where water supply remains a challenge, we are implementing immediate interventions like harvesting of rainwater, deploying mobile water tankers, amongst others, to ensure that learners have drinking water and are able to wash their hands

While a lot of progress has been made, we are mindful of the fact that a lot still needs to be done to ensure that the dignity of learners is restored. Recipient communities have a moral duty to safeguards these buildings and isolate opportunist criminals who destroy and interrupt our children’s education.  

Learner wellbeing

We want to ensure that learners stay in school and perform to their maximum capacity without hindrances.  The psychosocial and economic realities of South Africa merit schools as valuable centres of support, with ever-increasing demands on educators.  These include high rates of unemployment and poverty; high rates of HIV and tuberculosis infection; crime; orphanage; violence and child abuse.

Part of our duty as a caring government is to monitor and intervene on matters relating to the overall wellbeing of learners.    In the past months, we received a number of reports that indicate a concerning situation emerging in the sector.     To address this, we have undertaken to review and strengthen psychosocial support to learners.

The 2013 report of the Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS) by the Medical Research Council indicates that 25 percent of 15-19 year old age group reported having experienced sadness or feelings of hopelessness.  Out of these learners, 37 percent had to see a doctor or counsellor for treatment.

In response to this; the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has developed a conceptual framework on the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Programme.  This programme seeks will guide response towards addressing the various barriers to learning faced by South African learners in schools.  Working in collaboration with Universities and other government departments, final year psychology students have been placed in schools as school-based counsellors. The pilot of this programme is yielding positive results and we hope to strengthen and grow this partnership with Universities.
According to 2012 Human Science Research Council (HSRC) HIV prevalence survey infection rate amongst 15-19 year old is 3.2 percent (0.7 males and 5.6% females). The International Aids Conference held in Durban earlier this year further pointed high prevalence of HIV amongst learners and girl learners in particular.

Government is responding to the urgent need to massively improve the sexual and reproductive health education and services for adolescents in South Africa, It has become necessary for Government to once again re-focus the HIV and AIDS Life Skills Education Programme.  To date, the DBE National Policy on HIV, STIs and TB was approved on 20 May 2016 and the Campaign for girls and young women was launched by the Deputy President in June 2016.,

We have made major progress towards attaining the outcome of a long and healthy life for all South Africans

This was achieved through successful implementation of interventions to reduce maternal, child and infant mortality and successful management of the major communicable diseases facing the country, including HIV&AIDS.

According to Statistics South Africa’s Midyear Population Estimates Report released in August 2016, the overall life expectancy at birth of South Africans is 62.4 years in 2016, compared to 56.4 years in 2009.

Major limitations in the performance of the health sector include the following:

a) Lack of progress towards all targets focusing on the improvement of quality of health care in the public sector. This includes the inability to conduct patient satisfaction surveys, which assess their experiences of care in public sector health services.
b) Slow progress in the prevention and management of Tuberculosis (TB).

Government will embark on a nation-wide multi-pronged health communication campaign to assist in achieving set health target as enshrined in the NDP document. This campaign- PHILA, will seek to communicate health issues holistically as opposed to concentrating on a single pandemic. The Minister of Health will, in the near future, launch this campaign which empower and encourage an individual to take specific steps to prevent, care for, or treat health issues that threaten South Africa’s health in general.

The Social sector cluster departments will during the Month of October also embark on healthy and safer lifestyles awareness campaigns as follows:

●    National Recreation day where the nation will be mobilized around active lifestyles and the benefits thereof;
●    The nutrition and obesity weeks;
●    Transport month- focusing on Injury, violence and trauma, especially on our roads –motor vehicle accidents;
●    Social development Month will also prioritise among others; anti-substance abuse issues.

Recently, The Team South Africa hoisted high, the country’s flag in the international platform- 2016 Olympic Games. 

Since sport is central to nation building; we thank the Team South Africa for uniting this country around shared and common love for sport, and for continuously reminding us that we are a rainbow nation.

794 talented athletes were supported by sports academies across South Africa and 68 elite athletes were supported through a scientific support programme in preparation for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. This investment yielded positive results in both events and united the nation behind Team SA.  In addition, participation opportunities were provided to 20 250 community members at various sport and recreation events.

Drought and water restrictions

The country is still affected by the current drought; with the average dam levels decreasing week on week. The implication has been that a number of the country’s river systems are still very low.

As part of the mitigation efforts, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has gazetted a number of restrictions beyond the initial provinces that were hardest hit by the drought. The latest of these are those on the Vaal River System, as well as the Orange and Caledon River Systems.

We urge all users to work with government and ensure adherence to these restrictions for the common good.

The long range forecast shows a below normal, expected rainfall and therefore little relief is anticipated in the coming months. From a water supply perspective, water security must therefore be viewed and assessed in relation to the users that are served by the large regional water supply schemes comprising the major dams and large bulk infrastructure networks.

As part of our on-going drought mitigation measures, government has deployed sixty-three 18 000 litre-motorized water tankers across the most adversely impacted municipalities. Water conservation and demand management measures are being intensified with 16 000 water restrictors installed in a number of areas in eThekwini, Ugu, Zululand and uMzinyathi Districts of KZN.

The strict implementation of drought operating rules is currently being effected at all dams and this includes restrictions from the larger supply systems. In addition, the water mix is being increased, especially ground water utilization. More than 7 487 boreholes are now operational across the country. These boreholes were established by various government departments and municipalities.

We are working against major challenges globally and indeed the country faces its own. We remain committed to delivering services that will improve the quality of life for all our people.

Elijah Mhlanga
Cell: 083 580 8275

Issued by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

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