Cape Town - Psycho-social support is provided to pupils who lose a parent or guardian, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said in the wake of a new study that found one in every 200 South African children has lost a primary caregiver due to Covid-19.
The research into Covid-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of caregivers was done in 21 countries.
The Woodbridge Primary School last week extended messages of condolences to three of its pupils who lost their fathers due to Covid-19 related sickness.
Two of the pupils are in grade 4 while the one is in grade 2.
Provincial education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said when a learner's caregivers or family members pass away, for whatever reason, the schools psycho-social support networks are called on if required.
“In instances where learners are orphaned or are the responsibility of the courts the WCED works with the relevant government departments to assist with placement at schools,” she said.
The research was conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at UCTs Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescent Hub in partnership with the University of Oxford.
African countries include Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.
Professor Lucie Cluver co‑author of the study said globally, 1.5 million children have lost their primary caregivers to the virus, a “hidden pandemic” that was expected to have long‑lasting and damaging implications.
“Due to the staggering findings, the researchers call for an urgent response that draws on and harnesses the power of development accelerators – defined as services, provisions or policies that will lead to progress across multiple UN SDGs, to improve outcomes for children with diseased caregivers across the world. Development accelerators such as cash transfers and parenting support have proved to be an effective response, as is seen in evidence emerging from South Africa,” Cluver said.
She said other countries with similar high statistics like South Africa include Peru, the United States, India, Brazil and Mexico.
“Accelerator programmes need to be adapted according to the Covid‑19 context.
“We need investments urgently to get this ball rolling,” she said.
The study noted that in the Western Cape, a grandparent and elderly aunt was a primary caregiver because of the drug scourge, the HIV epidemic and high unemployment.
Orphanages in the province meanwhile said they have been inundated with requests to take care of children in child-only households.