The prioritisation of the topics of safety and Inclusion at schools in South Africa was boosted by the launching the National Inclusive and Safer Schools Partnership (NISSP) Strategy.
The NISSP is a partnership between the Department of Basic Education and the German Development Corporation GIZ, implemented by the Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention programme (VCP), with support from stakeholders from Masifunde Learner Development and Agape Youth Movement ,other civil society and relevant government departments.
The partnership was launched by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, at Pefferville Primary School in East London on Wednesday, 16 August 2023. It aims to strengthen collective action to institutionalise school-based violence prevention programmes, by consolidating, co-resourcing and implementing preventative approaches.
School-based interventions can contribute to reducing the instances of violence and gender-based violence (GBV) within schools and communities in homes, peer spaces physical and virtual spaces, as well as positively influence communities that experience high levels of violence.
Amongst these school-based approaches championed by the NISSP is the Masifunde Changemakers Network, which empowers young people as changemakers and learner leaders in their schools. The network’s objective is to encourage young people to take responsible, positive actions, find constructive solutions and harness their power to impact and influence their peers.
The Change Makers Network was successfully implemented in 45 high schools in Nelson Mandela Bay, but through the NISSP partnership the programme has been expanded to include education districts across the country, with the programme being implemented by local community support organisations.
According to Minister Motshekga, primary prevention programmes implemented in schools offer resources and support structures to learners and school-communities.
“Such programmes can help guide learners that may be exposed to or experiencing violence, to find coping skills, positive behavioural support and peer-to-peer education. They can offer safe spaces for children to disclose experiences of violence, develop leadership skills, change at-risk behaviours and improve their overall resilience,” she said.
“Through VCP, GIZ supports prevention interventions in schools. Initiatives such as learner-led school safety activation workshops, through the ChangeMakers Network, will be integrated into a toolbox and disseminated nationwide by capacitating safety coordinators in Districts.”
The NISSP partnership will also result in a digital toolbox, which will organise the various tools and resources available from partners and other organisations that contribute to making schools safer and more inclusive. The toolbox will allow schools, officials from the various provincial education departments and other partners to identify school safety needs in defined geographic areas, and assist in directing available tools, training and resources to address those safety needs identified in particular districts.
It is envisioned that this will result in increased planning, coordination and delivery of targeted support to schools.