World Cup will not disrupt schools - Govt

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pretoria - Government has reassured the public, particularly parents, that the number of school days will not be lost due to the longer holiday during the World Cup.

Speaking on Thursday, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said although schools will be closed for a period of five weeks during the duration of the World Cup to reduce congestion on the roads, learning will not be affected.

"Schools opened a week early at the beginning of the school year to compensate for the extended winter break during the World Cup," he said.

Schools have been encouraged to run special educational programmes during holidays, especially during the match free days to ensure that learners, particularly matriculants, do not lose the learning momentum.

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.

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

Special measures have also been put in place to ensure that children and women are protected from violence and abuse during the FIFA tournament.

"These measures include: arts and culture activities; safety awareness in schools; and 21 sports festivals in various parts of the country supported by UNESCO.

In addition, government will deploy social workers to all the public viewing areas and in host cities to monitor and deal with cases of abuse of any kind.

Motshekga 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.