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Concerns arise over termination of child grants


Ntsoaki Motaung

After receiving a letter from the Ministry of Gender, Youth, and Social Development, ‘Maseeiso Mosili from Linakaneng in Mokhotlong is deeply worried about her niece’s future.

The letter indicated that her niece, who has been part of the Child Grant Programme (CGP), will no longer receive assistance as she has turned 18.

Mosili had relied on these funds, which are disbursed every three months, to meet some of the family’s needs.

“What worries me is that the funds played a major role in ensuring my niece stays in school as a disabled person who had to leave home to attend a technical school in Leribe,” she said in an interview with this publication recently.

Mosili’s niece comes from a vulnerable family where no one is employed, and they rely solely on the old-age pension earned by her grandmother and the now-terminated CGP funds. The CGP, a programme under the Ministry of Gender, Youth, and Social Development, assists vulnerable children with cash support.

“My biggest concern is that my niece will have to drop out of school because we can no longer afford her school needs,” Mosili explained. Her frustration is compounded by the fact that her niece, who has a speech impairment, attended a school for disabled persons.

If she returns home, she will have to attend other schools.

Mosili used to send the CGP money to Leribe to cover her niece’s school needs. Now, with the termination of the grant, she faces an uncertain future.

Puseletso Mahlelebe, an auxiliary social worker for the ministry in the Menoaneng Council, advised that Mosili should help her grandmother apply for assistance on behalf of the niece under the programme for disabled persons.

“It is the design of the CGP that when a child reaches 18 years, they are automatically withdrawn from the programme. The family must apply for the beneficiary in the programme for disabled persons,” Mahlelebe said.

In a similar predicament, Kananelo Letela, 17, from Ha Lebopo, Menoaneng Council, worries about her future as she is set to turn 18 next year. “I am probably going to be withdrawn from the programme, and I am concerned about how I will manage,” Letela also expressed in an interview with Newsday.

She recounted how she once considered dropping out of school because her grandfather misused the CGP funds.

Recently, she started benefiting from the assistance as she began collecting the money herself due to her grandfather’s illness. “This morning, my grandfather told me to bring all the money home so he could pay his traditional healer. He believes the healer can make the pain in his feet disappear if he pays his debts equivalent to a cow,” she said.

In January, Letela nearly dropped out of school due to financial difficulties, but her school principal encouraged her to stay. She also received support from the Basic Education Strengthening Project (BESP), which helped her purchase a uniform and other essentials.

“We barely make ends meet and often depend on our relatives,” Letela said.

Nthabeleng Letela, a relative, also faced similar challenges and almost dropped out at the beginning of the year because she had no uniform. She mentioned that her father, who works in South Africa, never addressed her needs.

“In March this year, he came to get the money and left for South Africa without buying us anything,” she said.

Nthabeleng recently received additional funds from BESP and plans to buy a uniform to stay in school. “This will help me avoid the feeling of wanting to drop out,” she expressed.

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