Govt's plans to keep kids safe during World Cup

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cape Town - Government plans to keep children safe during the Word Cup by encouraging schools to offer holiday programmes, deploying social workers to public viewing areas and setting up child-friendly spaces at fan parks.

Briefing the media on Wednesday, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said provinces had encouraged schools to offer enrichment programmes for younger learners and planned to offer a variety of interventions for matriculants during the holidays which are set to begin this Wednesday, 9 June and run until 13 July.

These included help lines, staffed by subject experts and winter schools for learners.

Added to this, Unicef had organised 21 sports festivals in school communities around the country during the school days.

Motshekga encouraged caregivers to contact their children's schools to find out what holiday programmes were being offered.

She said while police had developed a step-by-step guide for those members working in community service centres, social workers would be posted at public viewing areas as well as in all host cities.

Social Development Minister Edna Molewa said social workers would be the first to arrive and last to go home, just to ensure that no one was left at the stadiums.

Unicef had trained about 1 000 child care workers through nine provincial training sessions held on 11 March and had also trained non-governmental organisations involved in the sector.

Molewa said child friendly spaces would be located at Innesfree Park in Sandton, Elkah Stadium in Soweto, Nelspriut and St Georges Park stadium in Port Elizabeth.

She said her department would look into claims that some municipalities and metros were rounding up street children, who are perceived as an eyesore, ahead of the World Cup.

Children would be reunited with family members and those that weren't would be placed in homes. .

Twelve safe houses had been set up around the country to which children and adults found to have been trafficked can be taken to.

Motshekga said the government had also developed guidelines when it came to dealing with victims of trafficking.

"This will ensure that we are able to treat victims of trafficking with the dignity espoused in our Constitution and the United Nations protocol in trafficking in persons," said Motshekga.

Meanwhile, radio adverts are expected to start airing later this week to sensitise the public in reporting acts of child abuse, while appealing to parents to keep a careful eye on their children.

Motshekga said the extended school holiday - which will start from Wednesday and run until July 13 and was seven days longer than the usual June break, would not impact significantly on the number of school days.

The number of school days is set by law at between 195 days and 200 days and Motshekga said the 2010 school year would have 195 school days.

The department urged parents to encourage children to continue to read during this period by reading to them and accessing reading materials from sources such as community libraries.

Museums would have special programmes targeting youth in area of crafts, art exhibitions, music and dance.

These were in the process of being finalised soon said the Minister of Arts and Culture Lulu Xingwana.

The National Youth Development Agency will tomorrow launch a national youth programme.

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