Statement by President Nelson Mandela on International Children's Day

1 June 1994

Today, 1 June, is International Children's Day.

I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the South African Government to a comprehensive programme to ensure that children of our country grow up secure in family life, enjoying all the rights and privileges they deserve. We recommit ourselves to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.

In order to realise these objectives, the Government has already set in motion mechanisms to implement various programmes that we announced at the Opening of the last Parliamentary Session. These include:

Free medical care in state hospitals and clinics for children under six years of age: A decision has been taken that this should come into effect immediately where mechanisms have been put in place, and it will apply to all cases where such a need exists.

A nutritional feeding scheme in primary schools: The relevant ministry is already identifying the areas most in need for the urgent implementation of this measure.

The Departments of Justice and Welfare will soon announce a detailed programme to empty our jails of children and to provide alternative care centres.

Legislation to introduce free and quality education for all children will be introduced at the next parliamentary session.

Among the measures that are also under urgent consideration are the conditions of street children, and ways in which the Government can contribute to alleviate and finally eradicate their plight. Further, legislation on the eradication of child abuse and child labour will be processed with deliberate speed.

On this day, we also extend our solidarity with children throughout the world whose lives are ravaged by the scourges of hunger, war and ignorance. We commit ourselves to contribute, to the best of our ability, to the international efforts aimed at resolving these problems.

The South African Government's approach to the question of children's social and political rights derives from the basic principle that to value our children is to value our future.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation