The rising level of youth unemployment in South Africa cannot be addressed by job creation alone. Facing a range of socio-economic challenges, many South African children don’t even make it through the education system, leaving some of them functionally illiterate and unemployable.
As school resumes for the new year, a number of environmental factors need to be addressed to help children learn.
Safe Parks, supported by UNICEF, are spaces where children are provided with some essential basic services under the supervision of professionals. Recognising that the country’s future lies with its children, Momentum Insure has partnered with UNICEF to bring to life the Safe Parks initiative aimed at creating safe spaces for young children through the adoption of the Klipspruit Safe Park.
“We cannot afford another generation of lost children who enter young adulthood with no qualifications and no hope,” says Momentum Insure’s Chief Marketing Officer, Shweshwe Tlhapane. “Providing underprivileged children with some care and attention in the Safe Parks is a small step to encouraging them to keep on with their schoolwork, complete their education and build a future for themselves.”
South Africa’s children face chronic overcrowding in classrooms, poor school infrastructure and a lack of qualified teachers. Some schools lack basic sanitation, and many have no libraries, no science or IT labs, and no sports facilities.
“Safe spaces make up for some of the deficits in the children’s home lives and in the education system, by providing the academic and emotional support they need. This may be the difference between them staying in school, or not,” says Tlhapane.
Safe Parks’ services and facilities include:
- Department of Home Affairs Child Registration
For many children, being undocumented with no birth certificate leads to a host of issues, rendering them ‘invisible’ in the system and vulnerable to exploitation by criminals. Safe Parks’ services include child registration with Home Affairs, formally documenting the children’s very existence.
- Libraries and Chomi internet cafes
Libraries and internet access assist with learners’ homework enabling them to catch up where gaps exist. With only 18% of Grade 4 learners able to read with comprehension*, supervised homework support is a critical element of Safe Parks. The Chomi network is safe, supports indigenous languages and its content is moderated.
- Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes
ECD is a critical stepping stone in a child’s life and without having basic skills in place, children may fall behind in school. Safe Parks provide a safe alternative to unregistered creches and other informal childcare arrangements to which many parents are forced to resort.
- Feeding schemes
With one in three children living in food poverty* in South Africa, Safe Parks’ feeding programmes provide essential nutrition as well as teaching children about food gardens.
- Life skills
As many of the children attending Safe Parks come from child headed households, this is the only place where they can learn essential life skills that would otherwise have come from parents. This helps children to navigate their home lives, and better focus on education and learning.
Safe Parks provide the children from the communities they serve with the opportunity to be just that – to be happy and safe and to play like other children.
“One of the prerequisites for children being receptive to education is a good quality of life. If we can help improve their basic living conditions each afternoon after school, we stand a chance of reducing the school dropout rate which threatens the future not only of each child that drops out, but the future economic growth and stability of the country,” says Tlhapane.
“Momentum Insure is a brand that is all about safety, starting with the safety and security of our children,” she adds. “Together with UNICEF and Safe Parks, Momentum Insure is helping to protect and nurture children who live in difficult circumstances and enabling them to enjoy their childhood and to thrive on their journey to success.”