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Occidental College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


According to UNICEF, 3.7 million children are orphaned in South Africa (2010). Parliament enacted the Children’s Act on April 1, 2010 to grant and protect the rights orphaned or vulnerable children (OVC). The Children’s Act aims to promote the well being of children, prevent abuse or neglect, and increase options for the care of children found to be in need or care and protection (Jamieson, Mahery, and Scott 2011). Children not receiving care and protection from a parent or guardian are placed in one of three options of alternative care. One being child and youth care centers (CYCC); also known as an orphanage or children’s shelter. There are six possible reasons a child would be considered an OVC. Once a child is found to need care and protection, they are placed in temporary alternative care for no longer than six months while the court considers a social workers report in making the final decision of where the child should be placed (ACT, Government Gazette). While it is effective to have laws in place to protect children’s rights, it is important to measure how OVC develop in the long term to be able to economically support one’s self. A study titled, Seven Institutionalized Children and Their Adaptation in Late Adulthood: The Children of Duplessis (Les Enfants de Duplessis), highlights the drastic effect child care provided in orphanages can have on orphaned children into adulthood. The study also measures the adults’ ability to function in society in many ways, including socio-economic advancement. The study concludes abusive and counter-productive care has had adverse effects on orphans in the long term. Using George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton’s theory of Identity Economics, I explore what obstacles orphans in Cape Town face in society and the workforce and how specific skills may impact their chances of better survival as members of South African society. The utility function, also known as motivation, effects the child’s participation and outcome in the economic sphere. Seven social workers and CYCC workers are interviewed to about the difficulties the OVC they have worked with experience and the difficulties they encounter in working at CYCCs in the Western Cape. The data compiled is analyzed in the context of concepts constructing Akerlof and Kranton’s 5 theory of Identity Economics. The data collected indicate a poor performance of some CYCCs due to indecent management and lack of funds. One CYCC that performs well due to a moderately high stable source of funding, and another CYCC holds great potential due to strongly ambitious management.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Other Economics | Place and Environment | Race and Ethnicity | Social Policy | Social Welfare | Social Work


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