WESTERN CAPE NEWS - Today, we mark World Children's Day- a global day aimed at promoting the rights of children and addressing issues that impact their welfare.
We observe this day at a time when children's lives are being severely impacted by the pandemic, and the economic crisis being experienced in countries around the globe.
This year, millions of children around the world, and here at home in the Western Cape, have had their learning disrupted, many may have experienced the death of a loved one, and many more are experiencing the impact of poverty and hunger.
As the Western Cape Government, we committed to feeding children during the lockdown, even when other provinces would not and through our dignity and wellbeing work are working to ensure that food aid is being directed where it is needed most.
We also know that the many changes and pressures children have faced this year, can have a significant psychological impact on children.
At school, they’ve had to adapt to new safety protocols and long periods at home, which is very difficult and disruptive. But learners need to know that they are not alone.
Education districts have specialised mental health support available and follow the WCED psycho-social support pathway, which enables schools to access various levels of support for learners. Psychologists and social workers also run preventative programmes for schools.
The Department has also built partnerships with the Department of Health and Social Development to access high level specialised support such as psychiatric assistance.
Our Safe Schools programme can also refer learners who call into the hotline, for assistance.
I therefore urge any learner who is struggling emotionally and needs psycho-social support to alert their teachers, or to contact the toll-free Safe Schools hotline (0800 45 46 47) if they do not feel comfortable speaking to a school staff member.
Our recovery plan has also committed to prioritising early childhood development centres, with a vision that any person can access early childhood development should they so decide.
Over R345 million has been budgeted for the current financial year by the Department of Social Development, towards Early Childhood Development (ECD) and partial care. We believe that this will go a long way to helping children interact better with other children and adults and provide a safe learning space for children while their parents are at work.
The latest statistics from the Department, indicate that the Western Cape has approximately 542 575 children aged 0 to 4 years. There are approximately 139 418 children in registered facilities, 14 000 children in out of centre programmes and 25 000 children in unregistered facilities.
Western Cape Provincial Parliament Youth Dialogue:
Today, I also had the opportunity to address the young people of the province through the Western Cape Provincial Parliament's Virtual Youth Dialogue. The discussion centred around the work that we have done as a province in managing Covid-19.
During my speech, I highlighted the excellent work done by government officials across departments during the lockdown and the peak of infections, which ensured that we were able to respond effectively, and ensure that appropriate care was available to those who needed it.
This included building temporary hospitals, delivering medications to the homes of our chronic patients, and continuing to provide meals at schools, even when no other province was doing this.
I also spoke on our recovery plan- which focuses on jobs, safety and dignity and wellbeing. Economic recovery is crucial in order to create opportunities for young people in the province and across the country.
Youth unemployment is unacceptably high in South Africa and this government will be working to create the enabling environment for job creation through promoting investment and removing red tape that stops entrepreneurs from starting their businesses.
The Western Cape Safety Plan's violence prevention component has a number of programmes aimed at ensuring that we make this province safer for our children and our young people, while also instilling in them the values that will promote non-violence in the future.
We have a number of programmes which we are rolling out to improve dignity and well-being- among them our sanitary dignity project which has already delivered 2 million sanitary towels to about 200 schools in the first phase.
Finally, I asked young people to partner with us to help slow the spread of Covid-19 in the province. The youth have a nig role in making this province safer when it comes to Covid-19, but, increasingly we are seeing young people start to let their guards down.
The Western Cape is currently seeing an increase in cases along the Garden Route and earlier, saw the impact of a super-spreader event attended by young people in the Southern Suburbs. My message to young people is therefore to understand the responsibility you have within your communities and to take measures to stay safe and keep others safe.
We must move forward so that we can build our economy and create a future for the young people of the Western Cape.
Update on the coronavirus by Premier Alan Winde
As of 13:00 on 20 November, the Western Cape has 5 232 active Covid-19 infections with a total of 122 974 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 113 237 recoveries.
The Western Cape has recorded additional 4 deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in the province to 4 505 . We send our condolences to their loved ones at this time.
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