Orphans And Vulnerable Children In South Africa Education Essay

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It is important that a sustainable, long-term solution is found in light of an anticipated crisis by 2014 with regard to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in South Africa. According to the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA), the number of orphans in South Africa will increase sharply during the period 2008 - 2014, with 1 542 201 in 2006, and 5 700 000 by 2014. According to Johnson and Dorrington, (2001:i) "South Africa's capacity to provide for the needs of these children will determine the long-term social stability of the country.

Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) through its SEED Strategy, is currently assisting local churches to be involved in sustainable community development initiatives as a means of building effective Social ministries so that the lives of vulnerable children will be positively affected. It is thus important that the church considers its role and approach in addressing the long-term needs of vulnerable children. Its effectiveness in community development is crucial, especially in view of the fact that there is not much time available to do so. If churches are not effective in their approach to community development, the anticipated crisis will become an overwhelming reality that will affect the basic quality of life across the socio-economic spectrum.

Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which aims, through its SEED Strategy, "to Strengthen, Encourage, Equip and Deploy local churches to meet the needs of vulnerable children through sustainable community initiatives" (ttt4c, 2009:n.p). Their SEED Strategy is based on 'Participatory' Community Development principles and outcomes and this strategy was developed by Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) to support the local church to be meaningfully involved in social ministry. The SEED Strategy is already incorporated by a number of churches in South Africa and a strategy is in place to increase this involvement.

Mitchell (2001:42), Unruh and Sider (2005:5) refer to the church's approach to help deprived communities that often result in making them dependent on the church for their continuous well being due to wrong strategies and approach in their praxis of social ministries. Such churches and communities then often live in bondage to an approach that encourages people to depend on the church to provide for them, rather than discovering what they can do for themselves. It is possible that the church has until now restricted its success due to incorrect approaches, but because a social crisis is looming, the church should not disengage from social ministry due to past failures, but should plan and strategise their efforts better. Such an engagement should be based on an informed and properly researched effort.

The church therefore cannot afford to engage in an effort or strategy that is not accountable and effective in the long-term. Making the community dependent on congregational-sponsored provision is further not a sustainable option in view of the anticipated crisis with regard to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in South Africa.

It would appear that the church's current involvement in social ministry should be challenged and further investigated and promoted from the understanding of what a workable strategy entails. It seems unwise for the church to engage in the SEED Strategy without prior investigation into this strategy as a viable alternative. The recommendation from various authors (August, 1999; Dreyer, 2004; Du Toit, 2002; Liebenberg, 1996; Myers 1999; Myers, 2006 and Vilanculo, 1998) relating to christian community development, is a 'participatory' approach to community development. With the understanding that 'Participatory' primarily relates to the focus of the methodologies of community development, the related principles and practices influencing successful community development should be investigated in light of the SEED Strategy's proposed outcomes.

It is therefore evident that an urgent consideration of methodologies, strategies and paradigms is needed in the church's approach to social ministry. With Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) promoting their SEED Strategy as a means to accomplish community development for the benefit of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), it is crucial to investigate the effectiveness of the SEED Strategy in its assistance to congregations. This needs to be evaluated in light of the inter-disciplinary understanding of community development, recommendations regarding initiatives to benefit orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and the mandate of the church's involvement in the lives of the marginalized and poor. If the SEED Strategy meets the outcomes of this investigation, relating to community development, recommendations regarding orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and the promotion of a mandate of the church, it could be considered as a valuable partner and catalyst in a sustainable and effective response of the church.

The question then, and which will be addressed in this study is the following: What is the recommended approach for the church to follow in light of a looming social crisis relating to orphans and vulnerable children? How does the SEED Strategy of Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) meet the outcomes of such an approach?

The church has until now restricted its own successfulness in ministering to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) due to insufficient approaches. In order to try and rectify the situation, this research will investigate the recommended participatory approach, based on theological grounds, in order to determine related principles and practices influencing successful community development. These findings will be integrated with the SEED Strategy implemented by Turn the tide for children (ttt4c) with the aim of presenting the church with recommendations for building effective social ministries.

Motivation OF STUDY

The wider church is considered to possess potential and a mandate to be a key role-player and catalyst in creating sustainable livelihoods that can improve the quality of life for these children.

According to Unruh and Sider (2005:5) most congregational-sponsored programs through their social ministries provide a limited service to meet urgent or one-time needs in their communities. They refer to this limited service as a tendency among congregations to primarily focus on projects that are short-term and small-scale rather than being ongoing and directed at the underlying causes of social problems. This approach causes communities to become dependent on the church for their well-being. Unruh and Sider (2005:5) argue for the church to have a community development approach that promotes sustainability in the long-term. Unruh and Sider (2005:5) further argue that churches, who are already involved in community development as their approach to Social Ministries, are not as effective as they ought to be and call for urgent consideration of their approaches, underlying perspectives and motives. Various authors in the field of Christian community development appeal to the church to engage in 'participatory' as opposed to 'positivistic', 'modern' and 'post-modern' paradigms in development work (August, 1999; Dreyer, 2004; Du Toit, 2002; Liebenberg, 1996; Myers 1999; Myers, 2006 and Vilanculo, 1998). South Africa is facing a tremendous challenge in long-term social stability with a current infrastructure already exhausted.

Dreyer (2004:57) identifies the role of the church as the influencer of people's worldview. He further links this with Christian's (1994:6) argument that the roots of poverty can be traced to people's worldview. Myers (2006:242) makes a strong case that the cause of poverty is fundamentally spiritual and that development by definition is about changing culture and changing culture is about changing values and worldviews. Myers concludes that by denying the role of religion in development, Western governments are excluding the most crucial factor from the success of any development initiative (2006:243). He does refer to the good developments done by other religious groups, but refers to the driving force for the church in the context of transformational development in the fact that the good deeds are evidence of the character and activity of the God of the Bible, the God whose Son calls to the new life and whose Spirit is working daily in our world (2006:243).

Dreyer (2004:90) concludes that the church has the capability to make significant contributions which are not within the capacity of most secular organisations. He refers to the major role played by the church as it is influencing individual's worldviews, as well as their understanding of the roots of the problems challenging development work. He states a strong case for the culture of the people involved and their level of commitment, as well as the motivation of the church and the people involved to development.

It would appear that the church's involvement is only possible if a workable strategy for sustainable community development can be found. It seems unwise for the church to engage in the SEED Strategy without prior investigation into this as a viable alternative.


The anticipated outcomes of this research are the following:

An overview of the state of South African children and factors contributing to the vulnerability of children.

To establish an understanding of the anticipated crisis regarding orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

A theological perspective for the church's mandate to recognize the church's responsibility and ability to address the anticipated need, in light of a theological understanding of God's attribute, specifically relating to the marginalised and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).,

To establish an inter-disciplinary understanding of community development and guidelines advocated with a national- and international focus towards the understanding of family- and community based interventions for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

To evaluate the SEED Strategy in light of the qualitative research and the inter-disciplinary research study, in order to make recommendations regarding Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) and their SEED Strategy.

Recommendations to the church regarding a strategy for involvement.


This research will primarily be based on two research methodologies:

A literature study

This research methodology will take the form of an analytical-critical study relevant to the problem statement as indicated. This implies that research will be done by systematically investigating and analysing the existing concepts. This will be done to firstly understand the anticipated crisis regarding orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), secondly to establish a theological perspective for the church mandate, and thirdly to conceptualise the philosophy, strategies and implications of community development and the recommended strategies regarding orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The data obtained will be used as literature control for the qualitative research of Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) and their SEED Strategy. Through this process, new insights can be obtained which will be helpful in the development of scientifically acceptable recommendations. This is in accordance with Eichelberger's (1989:71) observation that a literature study leads to an understanding of the historical development of the situation in question. This, according to Kritzinger (2000:16), gives clarity for the development of new insight and knowledge regarding the issues at hand.

With the literature research, all applicable data, primarily obtained from library databases, which include books, journals, dissertations and magazines will be investigated. If needed, secondary, authoritative internet sources will also be used. Internet sources will be treated as secondary sources because of the nature of these sources. The UJ Academic database available online via the UJ Library was the primary source of internet sources, such as academic articles, dissertations and other literature. Other internet sources was evaluated in light of the academic credibility thereof and accepted in light of a university's association with the author and organisation. Other internet sourced literature of acknowledged national and international advocates in the field of community development and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) were consulted in light of their extensive research in the field. While most internet sources are considered as not scientifically accountable, utmost care will be taken when consulting sources outside of the UJ Academic database.

The guidelines given by Creswell (1994:24) regarding responsible dealing with literature will be adhered to. These guidelines are:

To master the content of the literature

To identify similarities and contradictions within the literature;

To understand the contribution made to the specific field of study;

To support and enrich the knowledge database with acceptable contributions.

Interdisciplinary sources will be used in and applied to this study. Sources of the following focus will be consulted and included within this study:

Multicultural dimensions;

Recommended interventions for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC);

Statistical data relating to the state of children, globally, regionally and nationally;

Community development and the inter-related elements and principles.

Also theological sources will be used in and applied to this study. Sources of the following focus will be consulted and included:

Theological literature relating to the involvement of the church in the marginalised people of society, including a specific focus on children;

'Integrated,' 'holistic' and 'transformational' perspectives for ministry and approaches; and

Research relating to the church's involvement within a community development perspective.

Literature not relating to the African and South African context will be treated with sensitivity and will primarily be consulted and included for establishing principles related to the study field.

Qualitative research

Interviews will be conducted with the persons involved in the SEED Strategy and be examined at the hand of qualitative research. This research study is an attempt to evaluate the SEED Strategy. Interviews will be conducted until the data is considered saturated and no new information could be anticipated from the interviews, and until satisfactory data is obtained to conduct such an evaluation (Lincoln & Guba, 1985:2).

To accomplish the abovementioned and other requirements stipulated by Lincoln and Guba, (1985:2), a non-leading and open-ended question will be presented. The outcomes of the research will be subjected to a literature control.

The following research question is posed: "Tell me about Turn the tide 4 children and their SEED Strategy in your church's community development initiatives or local project." The respondents will be selected on the following grounds:

Only respondents from seven SEED churches that have already implemented the SEED Strategy, and have changed their approach to their methods of social ministry, will be interviewed.

Respondents from both the SEED church, and the Community church or community initiative at grass-roots level will be interviewed.

This research will be structured according to Widmer's (2003:33) guidelines. He says that research must be structured in such a way as to examine and describe the experience of those involved in the qualitative research. The findings will be subjected to the interpretation by an independent coder (Steyn & Lotter, 2006:115). Cautious attention will be given to adhere to the following ethical requirements at all time:

Participation by the respondent will be on a voluntary basis, at all time;

Under no circumstances will the identity of the respondent be made public without his or her written consent;

Information gained will be treated as confidential;

Respondents will be requested to provide written consent for their responses to be used in this dissertation, without making known the identities;

The interviews will be recorded with the consent of the respondents and a transcript will be made thereof;

The respondents will be informed that their participation will contribute to the successful assistance to churches in their approaches to community development initiatives;

It will be explained that there will be no financial benefits involved;

The respondent can terminate the interview at any time without any implications for the respondent.

(Steyn & Lotter, 2006:115).

The purpose of this qualitative research is:

To evaluate the impact of the SEED Strategy in light of the churches' responses regarding the principles of community development and the recommended strategies for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC); and

To establish if the churches involved benefited from the catalytic-relationship promoted by Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) through the SEED Strategy as a means to develop a multi-dimensional approach to community development in addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

The findings of the qualitative research will be subjected to a literature control. By so doing, the findings of the qualitative research will be compared to previous research results (Creswell, 1994:23). It is expected that it will result in the ability to formulate recommendations to the church regarding sustainable community development.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this study and the interpretation of terms and concepts relating to them, as well as the historical background and usage of them, an overview of these will be provided. Due to the limitation of this study, not all relevant terms and concepts could be included in this dissertation.


Various authors (Myers, 2006:3; Vilanculo, 1998:10) refer to the historical background and laden meanings of various terms used within the interdisciplinary and religious sciences. This is due to a long history of usage that makes it challenging to define and clarify them. It is, however, in the best interest of this study to make an effort towards this objective. This section deals with the definition of basic terms and concepts. In so doing it is expected that parameters within which specific words, terms or concepts are used in this study will be more precisely defined.


This term is applied to a variety of interpretations that could include a small town, village or traditional civilization. Other views focus on the social system that is composed of people living in relationship with each other, sharing common facilities and together framing a common communication network. It denotes the merging of common habitat, concerns and cultures which gives societal life its distinct character and form (Vilanculo, 1998:10). But, community is also composed of individuals or groups living in the same geographical area with different and even opposing interest and need, and are therefore not homogeneous entities (August, 1999:19).


Within the understanding of HIV relating to the virus as the cause of sickness, and AIDS relating to the syndrome as the effect of the virus, they should be referred to as two separate issues. It is, however, acknowledged that interrelatedness exists but it needs to be stressed that HIV is not the cause of death, and being HIV positive, does not necessarily imply the presence of AIDS as this is only developed at a later stage. The writing style used within this study reflects the separation of these within the understanding that it relates to assumptions that could lead to stigmatization and discrimination of individuals. In light of the lack of knowledge and understanding of the epidemic, this is considered an important issue.

Carer, caretaker and caregiver

These terms are used interchangeably to describe the person who has the actual care of the child, without necessarily implying legal responsibility (Tolfree, 2005:iv).


In most international and national instruments, children are defined as boys and girls up to the age of 18 years (Department of Social Development, 2005:12; Smart, 2003:3). "The age of 18 years relates primarily to the generally accepted age of majority, though in all countries there are legal exceptions, for example, the age at which a child may be married, make a will, or consent to medical treatment" (Smart, 2003:3).

Child Headed Household

When the parent or primary caregiver of the household is terminally ill or has died, and no adult family member is available to provide care and support, it often happens that a child assumes the role of primary caregiver in respect of a younger child, or children in the household in terms of providing food, clothing, and psycho-social support (Department of Social Development, 2005:13).


This is "a child who has no surviving parent caring for him or her" (Department of Social Development, 2005:12). There is a distinction made between a child who has lost one ('single') or both ('double') his or her parents.

A further distinction includes:

A 'paternal' orphan as a child who has lost his or her father and,

A 'maternal' orphan as a child who has lost his or her mother (which at times, also includes double orphans)

A 'double' orphan as a child who has lost both his or her mother and father (Dorrington & Johnson, 2001:2; Department of Social Development, 2005:13; Tolfree, 2005:iv; UNICEF, 2004a; Skinner, Tsheko, Mtero-Munyati, Segwabe, Chibatamoto, Mfeccane, Chandiwa, Nkomo, Tlou, and Chitiyo, 2006:266).

'Total orphans' are children under age 18 whose mother or father (or both) have died. The total number of orphans is equal to the sum of maternal orphans and paternal orphans, minus double orphans (because they are counted in both the maternal and paternal categories)

'New orphans' are children under age 18 who have lost one or both parents in the previous year (UNICEF, 2004a:6).

Orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)

The abbreviation OVC is often used in literature and relates to orphans (from all causes) and vulnerable children (Smart, 2003:3). The term OVC does, however, have its own difficulties as a concept, since it has no complete definition or clear statement of inclusion and exclusion (Skinner et al., 2006:619). This term, therefore, needs to be used with great caution when used as a general inclusion, firstly, because it implies that all HIV and AIDS-affected children, regardless of their situation, are 'vulnerable'; and secondly, because it can isolate HIV and AIDS-affected children from other vulnerable children in the community (Tolfree, 2005:iv). Due to the problematic around the term, the abbreviation 'OVC' will not be used in this study. This is in light of the UNICEF (2004a:6) recommendation in this regard.


This term is generally used to describe the child's biological mother and father. However, it is important to note that in some societies it is very common for girls and boys to spend various periods of time with other members of their extended family and sometimes with unrelated families. Throughout this study the term 'parent' will generally refer to the biological parent, but sometimes it will also refer to the person(s) who have assumed the child's care on a permanent basis - e.g., adoptive parents or extended family members providing long-term care (Tolfree, 2005:v).


This term is used in its broadest sense to describe activities that aim to protect children from harm resulting from exploitation, neglect and abuse. Harm can take a variety of forms, including impacts on children's physical, emotional and behavioural development; their general health, their family and social relationships, their self-esteem, their educational attainment, and their aspirations (Tolfree, 2005:v).

Primary Caregiver

An individual who has the parental responsibility or right to care for the child, and who exercises that responsibility and right (Department of Social Development, 2005:5).

Vulnerable Child

A child whose survival, care, protection or development may be compromised due to a particular condition, situation or circumstance and which prevents the fulfilment of his or her rights (Department of Social Development, 2005:5).


Chapter 1 - Problem statement, motivation, methodology and conceptualization

The problem statement, motivation and methodology of research and work strategy will be discussed.

Chapter 2 - The vulnerability of children and contributing factors

From the researched literature study, the state of South African children is provided in light of an understanding of the realities of children. These realities directly relate to factors contributing to the vulnerability of children and an understanding thereof is needed to grasp the anticipated crisis relating to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the near future. This is provided through statistical information limited to the South African living conditions of children and a limited description is provided of the contribution thereof to the understanding of vulnerability.

Chapter 3 - The church as agent for transformation

A literature study with no exegesis will be conducted, to consider the church's responsibility, mandate and ability to address the anticipated need. This will be done in light of a theological understanding of God's attributes, specifically relating to the marginalised and children. This will be considered in the understanding of God's actions that demonstrate his care and provision towards the marginalised of society. Further to this, is the dynamical contribution of Jesus Christ through his deeds and teachings. The chapter also includes the call towards an 'integral' approach, the dynamic contributions of the church and possible role as catalyst towards a more effective praxis of community development. Concluding the chapter is an overview of the church's current praxis and possible reasons for ineffectiveness.

Chapter 4 - An overview of basic principles of community development including general guidelines regarding interventions for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC)

This chapter starts with an interdisciplinary overview for understanding community development in light of the interrelated elements and principles of community development. An overview of the understanding of poverty and consideration of the call for a catalyst within the process of community development is provided. With a clear understanding of the realities of children in South Africa and the factors contributing to their vulnerability, an overview of recommended strategies relating to family- and community based interventions is provided. This is from an interdisciplinary perspective and also relates to advocacies actively involved in current trends and related research in the field of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The purpose of the inclusion of these recommendations stems from criticism towards the church relating to old and outdated methodologies regarding the care of children.

Chapter 5 - Qualitative research regarding Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) and their SEED Strategy

Firstly, an overview of ttt4c's origins, history and objectives is provided. Secondly the qualitative research is explained and the responses of the interviews are discussed. The research and insights obtained from literature are compared with field research and qualitative research. Attention is concentrated on the evaluation of the SEED Strategy and the establishment of new insights.

Chapter 6 - Recommendations and conclusion

From the information in Chapter 3 regarding the church's mandate, the information from the interdisciplinary literature study in Chapter 4 and the results and insights from the qualitative research in chapter 5, recommendations regarding the church's engagement with the SEED Strategy of Turn the tide 4 children (ttt4c) will be provided. A literature control will be used to affirm and develop any new insights.

It is anticipated that through this study, a framework for the understanding of the primary methodologies for the church to engage in a more effective way in the community, could be established. Such a framework could be recommended to promote a nature of evaluation of any partnership the church plans to engage in when considering a response within a community development setting.