The Department of Higher Education and Training, through Higher Health, is rolling out stakeholder engagement programmes in response to gender-based violence and mental health incidents in the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector.
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has hailed stakeholder engagement programmes targeting the youth as a "game changer".
Nzimande said the massive roll-out of these programmes adds to the already released set of instruments to further strengthen the realisation of the policy framework on GBV within the PSET sector.
"Higher Health has established relationships with 21 campus-based radio stations and youth based regional and community radio stations to capacitate, train and run content 42 times a week on gender-based violence and mental health issues," Nzimande said.
The Minister said these programmes add to Higher Health's 24-hour toll-free helpline available in all 11 official languages that enable students to report GBV and mental incidents.
The line offers health, wellness and psychosocial risk assessment toolkits for early screening, empowerment and referral related to gender-based violence, mental health, HIV, TB and other matters.
"All our universities have measures in place to raise awareness and offer guidance and advice on GBV-related matters. These include, but not limited to, workshops or presentations during orientation weeks and during various parts of the year for students, roadshows, training, production and dissemination of brochures and other literature for the university community," the Minister said.
The Minister said in addition to these initiatives, a large number of students have completed a curriculum on GBV prevention and mitigation, empowering them with knowledge and understanding of GBV.
The Ministerial Task Team established to advise the Minister and the Department of Higher Education and Training on gender-based violence held a series of consultation with institutions and established that not all of them have sufficient means to deal with GBV and other harm.
"The department and Higher Health will continue to support these institutions to address this challenge because GBV and associated harm is another pandemic that we must collectively defeat," Nzimande said.
The rollout comes weeks after the death of Fort Hare Law student, Nosicelo Mtebeni, who was brutally murdered and dismembered by her boyfriend in East London.