For Immediate Release: Monday, 20th October 2008 - Issued for and on behalf of the BLACK SASH and ACESS
Black Sash, ACESS and other partner organisations (including the South African Council of Churches, the People’s Health Movement and Africa Unite) will handover a petition – signed by more than 12 000 supporters – at Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday, 21 October 2008) calling for the extension of the Child Support Grant to 18. Selwyn Jehoma, Deputy Director General of Social Development, as well as a representative from the Ministry of Finance, will accept the 2500 page petition – endorsed by the likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. The handover will take place at 11am before Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announces the government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (at 2pm).
The two organisations have been gathering signatures for the petition since February when Mr Manuel fell short of announcing an extension of the grant to include all children in his 2008 budget speech. The Child Support Grant is currently only available to children (whose parents and caregivers are not able to provide for them) up to the age of 14. Although the age limit is due to be extended to children up to the age of 15 in January 2009, the Black Sash and ACESS are deeply concerned that nearly 2 million needy youngsters in our country between the ages of 15 and 18 are still not getting any direct financial support.
Marcella Naidoo, Black Sash National Director, says “social security provision for these vulnerable teenagers is not only their Constitutional right but we believe it is also the sharpest social policy tool available right now to address the unsustainably high levels of poverty and inequality in South Africa. Extending the grant to 18 will help many youngsters to complete their schooling and go on to provide for themselves in our skills driven economy.”
Allison Tilley, Advocacy Manager at ACESS, says they have been “overwhelmed” by the number of South Africans who have signed the petition and sent messages of encouragement and support. “We will all be demonstrating outside Parliament tomorrow morning in a bid to persuade our government to realise the rights of all children in South Africa. We will all be holding yellow balloons as a symbol of teenagers’ dream for a brighter future where all children are able to learn and play.”
The Black Sash and ACESS have welcomed the commitment expressed by Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya (on International Poverty Day, 17 October 2008) to the Child Support Grant and its improved delivery, but would like to emphasise that vulnerable teenagers can not afford to wait any longer – they need the grant now.
A collection of quotes from people who have signed the petition is attached below the Notes to Editors.
For more information or interview requests, please contact:
Black Sash Media Officer
ACESS media officer
NOTES TO EDITORS
Detail of Events for Tuesday, 21st October 2008:
10am: The Black Sash, ACESS and other civil society organizations as well as concerned South Africans hold a demonstration outside the gates of Parliament in Plein Street, Cape Town.
11am: The Black Sash, ACESS and other civil society organizations handover their petition to Deputy Director General of Social Security, Selwyn Jehoma, as well as a representative from the Finance Ministry.
Hundreds of petitions have been collected offline but to view our ‘online’ petition, please click on the following link:
A COLLECTION of QUOTES FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE SIGNED THE PETITION TO EXTEND THE CHILD SUPPORT GRANT TO 18!
I support you wholeheartedly. Viva Black Sash, viva! 2 million children must not, as now, be left without a Child Support Grant -- Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Children should not go to bed hungry and sent to school on an empty stomach! Give our future adults a fair chance at life. -- Robyn Hadley
I say every child with access to a computer and internet must sign this petition i mean imagine being one of those teenagers...not cool! -- Matt Leppan from 1 Aristea close, The Lakes, Noordhoek
Feed the children, Minister Manuel -- Lesego I fully support the Black Sash initiative to extend the child support grant to the age of 18 years. In the deeply rural and extremely poor district where I work there are many teenagers who are unable to finish school due to lack of funds (for school fees). If we are serious as a country about uplifting the poor, we need, at the very least, to enable everyone to finish school. The extension of the Child care grant to age 18 is a first step towards achieving a better future for our children and teenagers.’ -- Dr. Karl le Roux from, Zithulele Hospital, Zithulele Village, Mqanduli Di
The crucial nature of the brain development and psycho-social developmnt of young people 14+ means that they need our full support - for the sake of their healthy development and that of our nation. -- Diane Salters, Simons Town
Instead of budgeting for a surplus, we should budget to ensure that we do not have another lost generation. -- Edwin Arrison, Onrus Rivier, Social Policy Activist of the Anglican Church of South Africa
Research shows that the school drop-out rate of children begins when the CSG stops. Access to education, (and thus also the nutrition programme) and healthcare are basic human rights which are being denied to our children by denying them the CSG after 14 years of age. Children become adults at 18 not at 14! Extend the CSG in 2008. -- Phillipa Tucke, Centre For Applied Legal Studies, Wits University
Extension of Child Support Grant to 18 years of age will help to secure our children\'s right to health, education and a more hopeful future - Bridget Nomonde Scob, Rondebosh, Cape Town.
Extension of the Child Support Grant to 18 years of age will enable these young people to complete their schooling by which time it is likely that they will make more mature decisions about their sexuality, their future plans and quality of their lives in general -- The Peoples Health Movement
‘The extension to 18 year old children is the next step need in extending our social grant support, as envisaged by the Taylor Committee. -- Economist Peter Le Roux, Cape Town