CELEBRATING SUCCESS STORIES OF SOCIAL GRANT BENEFICIARIES

“We are encouraged by the work made by DSD under the stewardship of Minister Zulu. We cannot overly emphasise the importance of expanding and ensuring your footprint reaches out to the poorest and disadvantaged. There is overall consensus amongst stakeholders that whilst the efforts of the Department have contributed towards closing the socio-economic gap amongst young people across all corners of the province - this is against the growing unemployment rate, poverty, and inequality.”
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By Precious Mupenzi

  • Close to three million children in KwaZulu-Natal benefit from government social grants, enabling them to pursue education and thrive despite adversities.
  • Over one hundred social grant beneficiaries from various schools in KZN were honoured for outstanding grade 12 performance, reflecting the positive impact of social assistance on education.
  • Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu assures continued support for social grant beneficiaries through initiatives like the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), ensuring access to higher education for disadvantaged youth.

According to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) close to three million children benefit from the government’s social grants in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). These children through the social grants can live out their lives and thrive like all other children. And like other children, despite the adversities they face, they go on to make something of their lives.

Recently at an event hosted by SASSA some of these children were honoured as they stepped into the adult phase of their lives, passing matric and moving on to tertiary institutes.

More than one hundred social grant beneficiaries from various schools in KZN were awarded certificates for their outstanding performance in grade 12 last year.

The learners were from top-performing high schools in KZN, including Swelihle, Zwelibanzi, Dumehlezi, Menzi, Qhilika, Makhumbuza, Mafumbuka, Ndukwenhle, Mhawu, Lamontville and Velabahleke.

It was evident at the award ceremony that social assistance in South Africa goes a long way and it is through this investment that the government has ensured that children go to school, are able to find a home through foster grants, and that successful entrepreneurs emerge. During the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa narrated a story of Tintswalo.

A fascinating story that every young person can relate to her story because Tintswalo is neither a metaphor nor an outlier. Tintswalo is a living embodiment of the efforts of our caring government.

“I want to thank the Department of Social Development for its commitment in ensuring that the children of South Africa live a quality life like any other children. I am also grateful that we are also assisted by the government even after completion of matric through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS),” said 18-year-old Lulama Mzizi a learner from Dumehlezi High School in Ntuzuma who passed her matric last year.

The majority of the awarded learners are now at institutions of higher learning pursuing their first academic year, some are funded by National Student Financial Aid Scheme(NSFAS), while some have bursaries.

Mzizi who spoke to the DSD News team at the award ceremony is pursuing her studies in Dental Therapy at St Nicholas College. Dumehlezi High is one of the top-performing schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

In attendance at the ceremony was the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Deputy Minister of Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, SASSA Chief Executive Officer, Ms Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, and KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education, Ms Mbalenhle Fraser, Board Chairperson for National Youth Agency, Asanda Luwaca.

Encouraging the beneficiaries, Asanda Luwaca said young people of this country come against the backdrop of the socio-economic complexities that are exacerbated by the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequalities.

“Honouring these young beneficiaries correctly positions the work of the generation of yesteryears and the selfless struggles they fought for us young people to enjoy the fruits of this democracy.”

She noted how DSD through SASSA was changing the lives of African children in particular through the provision of children’s grants.

“We are encouraged by the work made by DSD under the stewardship of Minister Zulu. We cannot overly emphasise the importance of expanding and ensuring your footprint reaches out to the poorest and disadvantaged. There is overall consensus amongst stakeholders that whilst the efforts of the Department have contributed towards closing the socio-economic gap amongst young people across all corners of the province – this is against the growing unemployment rate, poverty, and inequality.”

Luwaca said the department alone cannot address the many challenges confronting youth, women, and people with disabilities.

“Therefore I recognise the importance of the private sector, government, and civil society in taking this opportunity to re-imagine their collective commitment, empowerment, and development of youth that will be responsible for driving sustainability and innovation of young people in the future,” she said. Luwuca emphasised that a multi-sectoral approach in dealing with challenges faced by the country’s youth was pivotal.

“There are no difficulties that we the youth cannot overcome. A country can only prosper if its youth is thriving. And it is through such initiatives similar to that of the department that we will begin to see tangible improvements in the material conditions the youth of this country find themselves in. We no longer as a country, have the luxury to just talk about youth development but have the collective responsibility, to make sure that it is tangible.”

She went on to say that the award ceremony was a practical display of the great work that can come out when collective responsibility is taken for youth development.

“The possibilities that exist for youth truly are limitless! The onus is on us young people to leverage these opportunities and ensure that we deliver a decisive victory for the government in the upcoming elections,” concluded Luwaca.

Minister Zulu assured parents and caregivers of children who were social grant beneficiaries that they need not worry about the further education of their children after matric.

She explained that grant beneficiaries were added to the NSFAS database as applicants as the government already knew that they came from impoverished homes.

“The government is aware of the plight of impoverished parents which is why a decision was taken that children who are social grant beneficiaries get the support they require from NSFAS, these children will continue being social grant beneficiaries up until the completion of their studies,” said the Minister.

Pictures by Mashudu Mzimba

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