‘Gang school’ transforms

2014-06-30 00:00

IN a remarkable resurrection, a local school described as a “war zone” and threatened with closure, was runner up in the Youth Citizens’ Action Programme (YCAP) National Championships held in Durban over the weekend.

Umlulama Senior Secondary School at Hopewell, located between Pietermaritzburg and Richmond, became synonymous with gang fighting, which led to the deaths of a number of pupils and ex-pupils and saw police arresting pupils as young as 14 on charges of assault and murder.

In May last year, Senzo Mchunu, now KZN premier but then MEC for Education, said the “school is dying” and warned parents and the community that it would be closed if the fighting continued. Now the pupils themselves have turned the situation around after creating a project to end the gangsterism, which was backed by YCAP and the Department of Basic Education.

“You were in the news for all the wrong reasons and now you’ve put yourself back into the news for all the right reasons,” said judge Jennifer Charlton announcing their award.

The school received a cheque for R7 500 to be spent on the continuation of the project.

YCAP is a competition-based programme active in all nine provinces and it encourages Grade 10 pupils from schools, often underperforming ones, to initiate a project to address an identified problem within their school or community.

“We took as our project addressing the negative impact of gangsterism in our school on teaching and learning,” explained Grade 10 pupil Sindiswa Ngubane when presenting the project to the judges.

Ngubane said that the gangs were modelled on prison gangs — “the 26 gang for the junior gang and the 28 gang for seniors”. Admission to a gang required killing someone and continued membership required sexual assault.

To combat this, the team of pupils running the project brought on board the school authorities, including the School Governing Body, and formed a Peace Club for the pupils. The community also became involved and a mobile police station was set up near the school.

“There has been no stabbing or fighting at the school after we started the project,” said pupil Thobile Mbhele.

Teacher Nolwazi Shazi, who worked alongside the pupils on the project, said there had been a turnaround at the school. “Things have changed a lot. All the community participated and now there is a smooth interaction between pupils and teachers.”

The winning school, Wrenchville High from Kuruman in the Northern Cape, who received a R10 000 cheque, addressed the issue of rape in their school and community. Their awareness campaign saw the teenage pregnancy rate drop in the school, as well as the end of “sugar daddies” coming to collect pupils.

“The youth know the problems they face,” said YCAP founder and CEO Amanda Blankfield-Koseff. “Let them address them rather than have adults dictating to them.”

Third prize went to Groenberg Secondary in Grabouw the Western Cape, who won R5 000 to use in their project on teenage pregnancy.

The Great Effort award for an inspiring project that needed further implementation was won by Isolomzi Senior Secondary, near Centane in the Eastern Cape, which tackled faction fighting.

Other projects ranged from a homework help club, starting a school library, making a school sign and environmental projects

The award for Best Quality project and Best Participation was a tie awarded to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Other participating schools were New Hope Secondary (Gauteng); Majeng Secondary (North West); Calamaza Secondary (Mpumalanga); Lenyora La Thuto Comprehensive (Free State) and Sekgosese Secondary (Limpopo).

Last year Pietermaritzburg’s Russell High was second in the YCAP competition for its action against litter campaign.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.