Children should be protected, nurtured

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Children are society’s greatest asset and the country needs to protect and nurture them, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

“Only by taking good care of them today, can we secure our future. To harm them, is to destroy innocence and weaken our social fabric,” said the Deputy President at the launch of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (CRF) Thari programme for the support of women and children at Reentseng Primary School, Botshabelo in the Free State.

He said the programme seeks to create a better life for children.

“Through the launch of the Thari programme, we seek to rekindle the dreams of our children and youth. We seek to create a life for our children which knows no neglect, scorn, exclusion or despair,” he said.

He said it is known that many children in various schools come from troubled homes, while many more are raised by single parents without any involvement of their fathers.
“Many experience violence, abuse and trauma. School is a sanctuary for them. When they arrive hungry at school, they are fed.”

Referring to the recent murders of two teenage girls Thato Salemane and Tumisang Lengau in Section K, he said: “Our hearts go out to the families of these young women as we together pledge to bring an end to violence against the young and the innocent.”

The Deputy President said schools should not become sites of violence and abuse.

Learners experience violence at the hands of fellow learners and even from teachers. He said spoke out against teachers who sexually abuse learners, saying they are a national disgrace.
“They have no place in our schools. When many of our learners leave school, they return to families where hunger and alcohol abuse is common.”

Improving the safety of women and children

The Deputy President said now is the time to take bold actions to protect and guarantee the future of children.
“This is what the Thari programme and Isibindi Ezikoleni is about. It is about improving the safety of our children and improving educational outcomes. When a school like Reentseng closes its gates, the safe park will provide a secure environment for the children after school, on weekends and even during school holidays.”

In addition, qualified child and youth care workers will empower children with life skills.
These workers will identify vulnerable children and provide them and their families with psycho-social support. Also, women and children will be empowered to protect themselves against abuse and exploitation.
“The initiative will also bring in men and boys to address gender-based violence, masculinity and sexual abuse. To improve their chances of success and to keep them motivated in class, the care centre will offer additional educational support.”
At the safe park, children will participate in creative artistic expression and sports to develop their talents.

The Deputy President expressed confidence that the project will yield positive results while also urging young people to work hard and to stay in school.

“I want to make an impassioned plea to our young people. Please work hard, stay in school and seek support when you need it. Don’t give up on your dreams. As government, business and civil society, we are committed to your success,” he said. –

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