Vodacom partners with the Department of Basic Education to tackle school violence in SA
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VODACOM, in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), has announced that it will place 20 psycho-social professionals in their Schools of Excellence (SoE) across the country.
According to Vodacom, the initiative was aimed at reducing the scourge of violence plaguing schools in the country.
In a statement, Vodacom said the programme was part of their gender-based violence ecosystem, which provides prevention, response and victim support programmes in partnership with the government and civil society organisations.
The company said it has so far placed 10 psycho social professionals in schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng with effect from the 2021 academic year.
Vodacom Group director Takalani Netshitenzhe said: “The programme will address various aspects of gender-based violence, including bullying and peer bystanders, with the ultimate aim to promote harmony and mutual respect between learners and between learners and educators, including the root causes.”
According to the company, a national school violence study conducted by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention in co-operation with the DBE revealed that 22% of high school learners experienced violence.
“This encompasses psychological and verbal abuse, robbery, physical assault, gang violence, sexual violence and bullying. Most of these encounters were targeted at females,” it said.
The company said the psycho-social professionals were trained by the University of Stellenbosch.
“The professionals are a critical resource that will promote a safe and positive school climate, provide support to educators and learners, and encourage student participation and empowerment to reduce school violence. Although they will be based at the SoEs, they will also service some of the surrounding schools in each district,” said Vodacom.
Vodacom said it hoped that through this initiative, they could help to transform schools into places of safety and learning, where learners could flourish without fear, and make a positive impact on the communities in which they live and on society more broadly.
“The consequences of school violence go beyond the direct and indirect impact to the victim. Violence-free schools also have the potential to initiate social cohesion in troubled communities, prevent gender discrimination, and contribute to national development – as safe, inclusive education improves lives now and in the future,” said Netshitenzhe.
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