DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has committed the government to prioritising programmes aimed at dealing directly with the needs of children.
This was after organisations representing children appealed to and challenged the government to include them in initiating programmes aimed at changing children’s lives.
The pleas were made during the commemoration of National Children's Day in Margate, Ugu District Municipality, on the South Coast, at the weekend.
"This government has done a lot to uplift our children and protect them from abuse, rapes and murders. We would never at any stage compromise the future of children as we ensure that we provide education and children have access to food at schools, and we are not going to stop," Khoza said.
The organisations said that since gender inequality remains a critical issue across the country, children must also be given the opportunity to be part of drafting bills to change such situations.
They also indicated that their involvement was necessary and decisions that were being taken had to be given priority to ensure that children inherited a better future.
They also called on the government to intensify programmes that are aimed at honing parental skills.
KZN Children Ambassador Mmeli Khawula said they want to be prioritised even in discussions of restructuring programmes that benefit them.
“We want to be involved in fundamental issues that affect our lives. The extent of abuse directed at children also needs them to participate in campaigns or programmes to fight abuse. We need to be exposed to entrepreneurial skills to benefit us in future," Mmeli said.
Children also made an impassioned plea with the government to ensure that the justice system, including police and courts, prioritised children's rights.
"Government must never make decisions on our behalf without us being involved. We also want government to involve us as children to help build a society where we are free and safe to live without fear of being raped, abused and killed," Mmeli said.
He added that the government could play a decisive role in accelerating progress towards fiscal measures aimed at changing the lives of children.
KZN Childline’s Adeshini Naicker echoed Mmeli’s sentiments.
She said: “I absolutely agree that children need to be involved. It is always important to look at children’s perspectives on matters. Child ambassadors are better equipped to take back the message to their peers and this may be better received coming from them.”
Khoza appealed to the children to respect parents at all times.
She also urged parents not to create anger in children by not involving them in decisions that affect their lives in future.
"We want police to ensure that children get priority. As government of the day we even take in children in conflict with the law to make them better. Some of the children have no parents and at times don't even know their real surnames, but we ensure that they live good lives just like their peers," she said.
The MEC said it was upon the children to grab opportunities availed by the government to better their lives.
She said the government was going to host a Boys Assembly on December 9 in Newcastle, where children would be able to engage the government on their challenges.
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