Girls still miss days of schooling or use unhealthy materials during their menstruation because of the Gauteng Department of Social Development’s failure to meet its target to distribute dignity packs to learners across the province.
This department’s incompetency can no longer be tolerated as female learners’ dignity continue to be trampled on when it should be protected.
According to the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2021/2022 financial year, only 636 119 dignity packs were distributed to learners compared to the target of 2.1 million which is equivalent to 30, 2 percent.
This is unacceptable and indicates that most learners that are in dire need of dignity packs did not access them due to the department’s failure to meet its target in this regard.
Furthermore, only 151 797 (65.4%) of school uniform packs were distributed compared to the targeted 232 098.
This is an unfortunate failure by the department as Covid-19 should have spurred it on to exceed its targets considering that its mandate is to alleviate poverty and provide essential support to the vulnerable members of this province.
Considering that many people have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents are unable to afford to buy sanitary pads and school uniforms for their children and they are solely dependent on this department to assist.
This is a crucial time when the department needs to prioritise providing dignity packs and school uniforms to Gauteng learners.
Therefore, it is not acceptable that the department blames its underperformance on Covid-19 and the lockdown regulations. Covid-19’s arrival caught this department with their pants down.
For far too long, the DA has been demanding the establishment of a database with the addresses and contact details of the beneficiaries of the dignity packs and school uniforms. This will ensure that all learners registered on the database have access to this critical service.
The DA will continue to exert pressure on the Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Morokane Mosupyoe, to establish a database for all the learners benefiting from the dignity packs and the school uniform programme.
Education is a basic right, and no child deserves to miss a day of schooling because of menstruation or not having a proper school uniform. It is high time that this department delivers on its core mandate of assisting the vulnerable people of Gauteng.
Issued by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development Refiloe Nt’sekhe