According to Paseka Njobe from the Department of Basic Education, violence and GBV in schools was on the rise. He said studies show that 32% per cent of learners have been bullied at least once in the past month, 32.4% per cent report being physically attacked in the last year, and 36% per cent of learner’s report involvement in a physical fight in the last year.
“A 2016 Optimus study showed that one in three young people had experienced some form of sexual abuse before the age of 17. Boys experience sexual abuse at a slightly higher rate (36.8% per cent) than girls (33.9% per cent) and they are far less likely to report the abuse to the police,” said Njobe.
In an effort to raise awareness around challenges faced by women and children in South Africa, the Thari Programme, led by the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation hosted a webinar with various stakeholders earlier this month. The programme of the day was facilitated by Mabel Rantla, the former head of the National Office on the Rights of the Child.
“Thari has committed to work with children, families and community services in an effort to bring back a culture of support for one another “so that we can feel safer and less alone in this new world,” said Maipato Mafantiri, Thari Child and Youth Care Worker.
She explained that when teachers or caregivers identify a child with challenges, they refer the issue to a CYCW for assessment. Home visits are conducted and factors playing a role in the child’s behaviour are explored. Where necessary, additional services offered by various Government departments are engaged.
The Thari programme was designed to provide schools and communities with a safe environment that is free from violence, is academically effective, inclusive, and gender-sensitive, while promoting health and well-being for all.It’s currently being piloted at eight schools in Botshabelo Township in the Motheo District in the Free State, and at Diepsloot Combined School in Johannesburg.
The programme also offers support to children through the aftercare programmes at the Safe Parks. This includes access to educational support activities, physical or sporting activities and recreational activities, all of which have been designed to encourage learning and engagement.
Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation’s CEO, Mmabatho Maboya, one of the speakers of the day said: “In the context of Women’s Month, we chose to spread awareness of the work of the Thari programme to create safe and empowering school communities that are free from violence, inclusive and gender-sensitive.
“There is a relationship between the vulnerabilities of women and children that the Thari programme addresses. Vulnerable women impact on the sense of security and well-being and the development of children; vulnerable girl children may grow up to be vulnerable women, and GBV and other abuse of women at home may socialize boy children to be abusive to women. These factors impact on the learning outcomes of children,” added Maboya.
She was joined by Lieutenant Colonel Majohi from the Free State SAPS who confirmed that the Free State SAPS had 111 police stations linked to 1,112 schools, and 71 schools have been identified as violence, bullying and gangsterism hot spots.
“We visit the schools often, speaking directly to the children. Over the past year, SAPS has developed a region-specific anti-gang and drug strategy, conducted 884 awareness campaigns in the area, and appointed junior commissioners to advocate against violence and crime on the ground at each school,said Majohi.
Betty Mangate from the Department of Education noted that there is a need for psychosocial support for children from an early age and for parents and educators on an ongoing basis. “We recognize the need for nutrition, health, nurturing relationships, communication, and play and learning activities. We provide a comprehensive continuum of services based on these needs and address them with the help of parents, teachers, the community and our partnerships. This fight cannot be fought alone,” said Mangate.
Maboya concluded that one of the key messages of the webinar was a partnership. “Together, we can achieve much more and at a greater pace,” she said. The webinar called for a financial, in-kind and collaborative partnership with the Thari Programme, as may be appropriate, from the corporate, state, community and fellow NGO sectors.