The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) supports the 16 Days for No Violence Against Women and Children, a global campaign calling for an end to Gender-based Violence (GBV).
The annual campaign takes place from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). This year's theme is "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!".
The WCED has encouraged all Head Office and district officials to take part in this global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations during this period.
Schools will also add their voices to the campaign. Silent protests, candle lighting ceremonies and awareness programmes have been planned across education districts. Videos creating awareness from our Specialised Support Services and Metro East and South Districts have been uploaded to our You Tube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SziQ-BBXENA.
The WCED certainly understands that we do have a role to play in developing the young human brain and the behaviour of our learners. We would like all of society to work with us, as we certainly cannot do this alone. The WCED is working closely with other provincial departments and organisations but also requires the assistance of all parents and communities as we fight for the rights of all.
Addressing GBV, however, is not just a 16-day event. We believe that we must build in awareness of GBV into our everyday schooling, if we are to help prevent it from occurring.
Curriculum in our schools has a large role to play teaching learners how to cope and counteract violence and "making the right choices". The issue of Gender based violence is addressed in the curriculum, from Grade 4 to Grade 12.
The importance of providing children with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values regarding their sexuality, gender, religion and race and the accompanying social responsibilities cannot be over-emphasised.
The WCED recently launched the Online Safety Curriculum which is deemed crucial as learners are spending much of their time on the internet and social media - both for learning and for entertainment. In some cases, social media is the gateway to GBV. Learners and parents can visit the cyber wellness page on the WCED website, which has workbooks, documents and advice on topics such as safe cell phone use, and tools to prevent cyber bullying:
In August, the WCED hosted a webinar on addressing gender-based violence through Life Orientation which attracted more than 1 700 participants.
Some of the topics discussed included how teachers should address this issue by using the right language, values, attitude and behaviour, the importance of language and how girls and women are humiliated and ridiculed through the spoken word, cyber-bullying and sexual grooming and the issue of human trafficking and modern day slavery where women are subjected to violence in the home.
A recording of the GBV Webinar is available at this link: https://youtu.be/IbvSuSi9KvM
There are many other initiatives underway by the WCED which deal with various aspects of gender-based violence, behaviours and moral values, that strengthen the curriculum.
For example, the WCED Transform to Perform Strategy - has a Values programme that has been implemented in schools. Schools have been asked to choose 12 values for each month of the year and to explain, talk, show and live these values. These values include respect for one another, kindness, caring etc. Schools are to have ongoing discussions with learners on values and to undertake in various initiatives that showcase them. Many of our principals have reported a decline in learner bullying, for example, as a result of this programme, as they are being taught how to respect and consider one another and their feelings.
The WCED also has a partnership with the A21 group which focusses on human trafficking in SA and internationally. It addresses female trafficking, child labour and abuse, as well as child abuse online. They conduct teacher training workshops in dealing with human trafficking.
Quite significant, as it is a first in Education across SA, is the development of draft guidelines for schools on gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools. The purpose of the draft guidelines is to:
create an educational environment that does not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including gender, sex, sexual orientation, conscience, belief, culture and birth, among others;
create an educational environment that is free from stigma and discrimination for all learners in all public schools; and
promote gender identity and gender expression.
Finally, and most importantly, we urge any learner who is experiencing abuse of any kind to contact our toll-free Safe Schools call centre on 0800 45 46 47.