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30 March 2021 | Story Dikgapane Makgetha | Photo Supplied
Social Work students at the UFS are working with the relevant stakeholders in an Engaged Teaching and Learning service-learning project to promote and respect children’s rights.

The protection of children’s rights is the principal achievement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda. Emphasis has always been on the promotion and respect of children’s rights. Since the SDGs are grounded in a child rights-based approach, the University of the Free State (UFS) Social Work students – by engaging in a multi-disciplinary methodology – involve all the relevant stakeholders in their Engaged Teaching and Learning service-learning module project. 

The social partners, which included the South African Police Service (Child Protection Unit), the Department of Social Development, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Health, faith-based organisations, and other children’s advocacy agents, were involved from inception until the apex launch of the project. 

Access to basic human rights

In their exit level, fourth-year Social Work students participate in community work practicums, which incorporates the theoretical development process in adherence to the objectives of their community work. The initial phase of the project involved the situation analysis exercise, which the students implemented through collaboration with the Rekgonne Primary School action committee. 

The outcome of the survey indicated that some learners were exposed to physical and sexual abuse. It was also found that they did not have access to basic human rights such as education, health care, and social grants due to the absence of the required legal documents. From the interactive discussions that took place during the launch, it emerged that some children do not have birth certificates required for school registration and access to social grants. 

Through the students’ community project, a platform was created where important skills and information could be shared among all important role players (who are in different professions and guardians of children’s human rights). It is believed that since learners are spending more hours in school, educators would be the primary detectors to notice signs of negligence and potentially adverse circumstances among their learners.

Role players collaborate to make a difference

Through the scholarship of engagement, students succeeded in engaging with the community to attend to societal challenges (violated children’s rights). In order to realise the outcome of the project, continuous collaboration among all role players must be sustained. All parties adopted a resolution to create safe environments both at school and at home by supporting families and caregivers.

Government partners that participated were determined to strengthen protection systems and improve child welfare, reinforcing the implementation of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.  Educators were empowered and supported in the mandate of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC). This is an initiative that involves stakeholders in improving the quality of education for all children and addresses issues of safety and well-being for all children. 

News Archive

Census 2011 overshadowed by vuvuzela announcements
2012-11-20

Mike Schüssler, economist
Photo: Hannes Pieterse
15 November 2012

Census 2011 contains good statistics but these are overshadowed by vuvuzela announcements and a selective approach, economist Mike Schüssler said at a presentation at the UFS.

“Why highlight one inequality and not another success factor? Is Government that negative about itself?” Mr Schüssler, owner of Economist.co.za, asked.

“Why is all the good news such as home ownership, water, lights, cars, cellphones, etc. put on the back burner? For example, we have more rooms than people in our primary residence. Data shows that a third of Africans have a second home. Why are some statistics that are racially based not made available, e.g. orphans? So are “bad” statistics not always presented?”

He highlighted statistics that did not get the necessary attention in the media. One such statistic is that black South Africans earn 46% of all income compared to 39% of whites. The census also showed that black South Africans fully own nearly ten times the amount of houses that whites do. Another statistic is that black South Africans are the only population group to have a younger median age. “This is against worldwide trends and in all likelihood has to do with AIDS. It is killing black South Africans more than other race groups.”

Mr Schüssler also gave insight into education. He said education does count when earnings are taken into account. “I could easily say that the average degree earns nearly five times more than a matric and the average matric earns twice the pay of a grade 11.”

He also mentioned that people lie in surveys. On the expenditure side he said, “People apparently do not admit that they gamble or drink or smoke when asked. They also do not eat out but when looking at industry and sector sales, this is exposed and the CPI is, for example, reweighted. They forget their food expenditure and brag about their cars. They seemingly spend massively on houses but little on maintenance. They spend more than they earn.”

“On income, the lie is that people forget or do not know the difference between gross and net salaries. People forget garnishee orders, loan repayments and certainly do not have an idea what companies pay on their behalf to pensions and medical aid. People want to keep getting social grants so they are more motivated to forget income. People are scared of taxes too so they lower income when asked. They spend more than they earn in many categories.”

On household assets Mr Schüssler said South Africans are asset rich but income poor. Over 8,3 million black African families stay in brick or concrete houses out of a total of 11,2 million total. About 4,9 million black families own their own home fully while only 502 000 whites do (fully paid off or nearly ten times more black families own their own homes fully). Just over 880 000 black South Africans are paying off their homes while 518 000 white families are.

Other interesting statistics are that 13,2 million people work, 22,5 million have bank accounts, 19,6 million have credit records. Thirty percent of households have cars, 90% of households have cellphones and 80% of households have TVs.
 

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