COST RECOVERY


RESEARCH AND INFORMATION DISSEMINATION

Abstracts from some research conducted at HURISA (ISPV).

No money, no rights: Cost recovery and girls’ development in South Africa (2004) by Jacquelyn Béasse, Canadian intern (2004)

Abstract:

In September 2000, 189 member states of the United Nations committed themselves to the Millennium Declaration addressing the debilitating effects of poverty around the world. The Declaration set a target date of 2015 to achieve the following Millennium Development Goals:

• eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;

• achieve universal primary education;

• promote gender equality and empowering women;

• reduce child mortality;

• improve maternal health;

• combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;

• ensure environmental sustainability;

• develop a global partnership for development.

Recognising the international importance of achieving gender equality in education, governments set an earlier target of 2005 to achieve this goal, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) subsequently titled its 2004 The State of the World’s Children report “Girls, education and development”. The year 2004 also coincided with the 10th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. Since 1994, South Africa has undergone profound political, economic and social change. And yet, while much has been written on education and the girl-child at an international level, this topic has been addressed less frequently at the South African level. As a result, this paper weaves international and national policies with case studies, research, and statistics to provide an analysis of “girls, education and development” in South Africa since 1994.

This paper begins from the premise that for girls’ development to occur, poverty and disparity must be levelled and barriers to accessing basic services must be removed. In South Africa, the three basic services of education, health and water are constitutionally guaranteed rights that are inextricably linked to girls’ development. Thus, an inability to access running water in schools, for instance, can pose a significant health threat and impede learning. The following analysis argues that the South African government’s pursuit of cost recovery policies since 1994 has impaired its ability to equitably deliver education, health and water services. The result is that applying market principles to service delivery prevents vast numbers of people from accessing not only basic services, but also constitutionally guaranteed rights. This is simply untenable in a country like South Africa where devastating inequalities created under the apartheid system persist. Considering UNICEF’s focus on “girls, education and development”, particular attention will be paid to the disproportionate effects that inaccessible services have on the opportunities available to the girl-child. The roles of the public and private sectors in providing basic services and upholding human rights will also be addressed.

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