More than 130 participants representing their high schools gathered at Willows Resort Conference Center to discuss safety issues affecting themselves, their schools and communities at a three-day conference between 25 and 27 November.
On Friday, the summit was joined by officials from the Department of Education, National SAPS, Provincial SAPS Eastern Cape and Gauteng and the Department of Community Safety Gauteng, who actively participated in the lively discussions on crime and violence prevention.
All learners received training in talking taboos and the Alternative to Violence Programme (AVP) to strengthen their role as safety ambassadors. They identified gender-based violence as a major issue they are facing on a daily basis. Together, they’ve developed action plans and a campaign for positive manhood and assertive girls.
The campaign called #NoMeansNo, which will be launched on Freedom Day at the “Freedom for a Safer Youth” event, is planning to spread the message through public debates, drama plays and peer-to-peer workshops.
SAFER SCHOOLS NETWORK
Shane Mangcangaza, project coordinator: “Safety in schools and communities can only be achieved if all parties, that means learners, educators, school government, local police, the Department of Education and many others, work together to solve the problems and tackle the issues. We at YSC try to bring all role players together.”
With the support of the Department of Education, Masifunde has initiated the Safer Schools Network. It brings together all interested school leaderships and stakeholders from the Bay in order to:
- initiate exchange between the schools about school safety matters;
- share good practice examples in the creation of safer schools;
- advocate together for school safety matters.
About the project
The Youth for Safer Communities Project (YSC) is a peer-to-peer school safety project by Masifunde, funded by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ). It is a successful example of learners taking the initiative to make a difference in their schools and communities.
“We at Masifunde consider youth neither as victims nor as perpetrators but as a solution to social challenges. We encourage youth to become active role models and agents of change within their community”, Jonas Schumacher, Managing Director of Masifunde Learner Development, explains the project’s approach.
The heart of the project is a peer-activation workshop developed and facilitated by high school learners. The workshop aims at the participants recognizing the role they can play in the creation of safer schools and communities. In 2016, 51 workshops were held in high schools all over Nelson Mandela Bay, reaching out to close to 2900 pupils.