Situation of children in South Africa
A country where children have equal rights under the Constitution, but where the worlds into which they are born and their opportunities in life are very unequal.
As one child sets off to school, dressed in a crisp new uniform and polished shoes, another knocks on a car window at a traffic light, asking for money. As one child rises to prepare for school, another has already been walking for three hours to get there on time. As one sick child is given medical attention in time, another dies on the back of their mother who arrived at a health clinic too late.
This is South Africa; a country of contrast and diversity. A country where children have equal rights under the Constitution, but where the worlds into which they are born and their opportunities in life are very unequal. While the rights of children are progressively and clearly defined, ensuring that these rights are fulfilled for every child in the context of deep-seated inequality, remains a pressing challenge.
Relief from poverty and access to health care, education and a safe environment are issues that millions of children face in South Africa every day. Despite significant progress made in improving the well-being of children, the implementation of laws, policies and programmes remains uneven and millions of the country’s most disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalized children continue to be left behind. Depending largely on where children live, the quality of services that they can access also varies drastically.
While there have been advances made in the provision of services and access to all children in South Africa, the need for a sustained and targeted response to the following challenges remains urgent:
- more than half the children in South Africa continue to live below the poverty line;
- one third of girls experience some form of violence before the age of 18; and
- two-thirds of children eligible for early childhood development (ECD) programmes do not have access to them.