The South African Child Gauge® is a flagship publication that provides an annual snapshot of the status of children in South Africa. By drawing on the latest research evidence, the Child Gauge presents a set of plain language essays on a different theme each year, alongside an update on legislative developments that affect children’s rights. It also includes datasets that track various socio-economic indicators related to children, and is accompanied by a pull-out poster on the theme, a policy brief, and a child-friendly summary.
The Child Gauge aims to track South Africa’s progress in realising children’s rights. Annual themes are chosen to inform, focus – and sometimes direct – national dialogue on an issue which has particular impact on the rights of children in South Africa.
2005: Children and HIV/AIDS
The first in the series was released on World AIDS Day and received considerable attention from the news media – a trend to date.
2006: Children and poverty
The second issue drew extensively on our Means to Live research, which investigated the targeting aspect of a range of poverty alleviation programmes that benefit children. The publication was released a week before the President's State of the Nation address, and informed a good deal of media coverage on the situation of poor children – a timely focus since the ruling party declared 2006 the year to intensify the fight against poverty and unemployment.
2007/2008: Children's constitutional right to social services
At the time of planning the third issue, the new Children’s Act was about to be implemented to give effect to children’s constitutional rights to social services, family care or alternative care and protection from abuse and neglect. Thus the issue focused on the key features of the new Act and its main implementation challenges. It was used extensively at a Department of Social Development conference on the Children’s Act shortly after it was released.
2008/2009: Children’s right to meaningful access to basic education
Edited by Professor of Education, Shirley Pendlebury, it was the first Child Gauge that included essays by researchers from other academic institutions. It was released at a seminar on children’s right to health and education in partnership with the South African Holocaust Foundation.
2009/2010: Child health - from survival to optimal development
Edited by Emeritus Professor of Child Health, Maurice Kibel, this issue included contributions from leading academics and policy-makers, including the Minister of Health. The launch received print, radio, television and online media coverage amounting to the value of over 5 million Rand.
2010/2011: Children as citizens: Participating in social dialogue
Due to the participation theme, local children from different organisations for the first time participated extensively in the making of the book. They produced artwork for use, designed an accompanying poster, peer-reviewed a child-friendly summary and participated in the public launch and media outreach. The launch attracted high-profile speakers such as the Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and Mampela Ramphele. Three South African musicians who are UNICEF ambassadors promoted the theme on Twitter, and one of them, Danny K, attended the launch to discuss with the children their experiences of participation.
2012: Children and inequality: Closing the gap
This issue incuded a reflection on the theme by the National Planning Commission's Trevor Manuel, who also delivered the keynote address as the launch. News media coverage continued for 10 days running and amounted to the value of just under R1.6 million. For the first time, the key findings were digested into an accompanying policy brief.
2013: Stepping up national development: Prioritising essential services for young children
The theme dealt with early childhood development, and the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, delivered the launch keynote address. The publication was extensively used in drafting the country's first national ECD policy and ECD programme, to which the Institute contributed, and in different provincial and community-based dialogues and training initiatives to enhance understanding of an essential package of services for young children.
2014: Preventing violence against children - breaking the intergenerational cycle
This issue was published at the opportune time when an inter-ministerial committee was developing an action plan with a strong focus on prevention of violence against children. The launch was held in Pretoria, and followed by a one-day symposium with members of the National Child Care and Protection Forum to discuss key findings and examples of best practice. A third event, in Cape Town, showcased violence prevention projects which featured in the publication.
2015: Youth and the intergeneratinal transmission cycle of poverty
This issue will be released in the last quarter of 2015.
The continued publication of the South African Child Gauge was made possible by the ELMA Foundation; Atlantic Philanthropies; UNICEF South Africa (every year since 2010); the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development, The Presidency (2014); Ilifa Labantwana (2013); World Vision South Africa (2014); the FNB Fund (2014); the Safety and Violence Initiative, UCT (2014); and the DG Murray Trust for updates to the ‘Children Count’ section (since 2013).
Project team: Charmaine Smith (project manager and co-editor) and Lori Lake (commissioning editor) in collaboration with different content editors and contributors each year.