As the world continues to battle with numerous social issues, one prominent problem is violence among the youth. It is vital that young people are equipped with the necessary skills to tackle this issue, and this is where the SHAWCO Education Violence Prevention Programme (VPP) comes in. In this report, we detail the programme’s progress during the first semester of 2023, highlighting the challenges and successes we experienced.
At the beginning of the year, our goal was to run the VPP for six consecutive weeks across six schools. During the first session, we focused on Athlone High, Bulumko High, and Intlanganiso High. Though we had yet to set a specific target for the number of learners we wanted to reach, we aimed to reach six schools before the year ended. During the recruitment stage, we had over 100 volunteers, with 36 attending the training session. We were pleased to have 60 learners from Intlanganiso High and 50 learners from Bulumko High attend the first session, which left both learners and volunteers happy and motivated.
The second session was planned for the 11th of March, but due to the protests at UCT on the 10th, we postponed it to the 18th of March. Unfortunately, I failed to notify the schools about this change, leading to decreased attendance as learners came to school on the 11th. Learners and volunteers alike were discouraged by the situation, with a significant drop in the number of learners who attended the session. We had to reevaluate our strategy and created a WhatsApp group to ensure clear communication with learners about the sessions.
The third session was held on the 18th of March across Athlone High, Intlanganiso High, and Bulumko High. Though only one learner showed up from Athlone High, we had 25 learners from Bulumko and four learners from Intlanganiso High. With these low numbers, we decided to cancel future sessions at Athlone High until next semester. Our communication strategy was reinforced, and we created more WhatsApp groups to reach out to the learners.
The fourth session was held on the 15th of April at Intlanganiso and Bulumko High schools, with 17 volunteers in attendance. The number of learners who showed up decreased again, but we were undeterred, knowing that setbacks are part of the journey. We decided to move forward and go to the schools with the volunteers to encourage and motivate the learners to attend.
As we continue the SHAWCO Education Violence Prevention Programme, we remain dedicated to our goal of empowering the youth to address violence in their communities. We are confident that we can achieve this goal with our persistence and the support of our volunteers. Our team remains optimistic and determined to make a difference, no matter the challenges we face along the way.