The social net is working, believe it or not

2014-07-20 15:00

Last May, Sky News reported that many poor South African teenagers were drinking heavily while pregnant to harm their unborn children and later claim disability grants.

Two years earlier, local media declared about 15% of girls in Limpopo were falling pregnant only to claim child support grants – even though the researchers who’d gathered this information said they doubted its veracity.

Social grant recipients are heavily maligned in some quarters, dismissed as freeloaders who expect government to pay their bills rather than go out themselves in search of work.

South Africa’s extensive social grant network is decried as a burden on the fiscus that cannot be justified.

Two pieces of research released this week will disappoint those antipoor elements and serve as a timely reminder that in a grossly unequal country like ours, social grants aren’t just about money – they feed, clothe, educate and ultimately provide dignity to millions of children who we entrust with South Africa’s future.

A Stellenbosch University academic has found that households that receive a child support grant are likely to spend more money per meal and less on “adult goods” like alcohol and cigarettes.

Children supported by the grant are likely to grow taller than their peers and perform better at school, with less chance of repeating a grade.

National Treasury also revealed this week the amount of money spent on providing grants is sustainable in the long term – and that the pressure these grants place on the fiscus will start to decline over the next decade.

Bad news for the doubting Thomases but good news for those who matter: poor, mostly black South African children who deserve the same nutrition, schooling and opportunities as their peers.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.