Creating safe schools

2019-06-18 06:00
Daniel Martin from Zeekoevlei High School, Taahirah Hoosain from Lotus High School and Gradi Lumbila waiting for their turn to sign a pledge. Lauren Alberts (parent) signs,

Daniel Martin from Zeekoevlei High School, Taahirah Hoosain from Lotus High School and Gradi Lumbila waiting for their turn to sign a pledge. Lauren Alberts (parent) signs,

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A group of parents of children attending Parkwood, Grassy Park, Lotus River, Zeekoevlei, Schaapkraal and Blackheath High School attended a workshop organised by Bottomup at Parkwood Primary School on Saturday 8 June.

Bottomup, a non-profit organisation (NPO), works with children and the youth to promote critical thinking, social justice and participatory democracy, and has decided to engage parents and teachers in their activities. The workshop titled #Creating non-violent schools aimed to educate the parents about their rights to protect children against corporal punishment at schools, as well as to encourage them to speak out about issues affecting children’s education.

They were also advised to be active in parental meetings and familiarise themselves with educational policies and the government legislations. During the event, they sat in groups and were involved in different activities including presentations and discussions. Some of the parents signed a pledge which vows to protect and create violence-free schools.

They were joined by learners from various schools.

Lauren Albert, a parent from Schaapkraal, said the impact Bottomup has on her two children inspired her to accept the invite and get a first-hand experience in one of their programmes. “The workshop was eye-opening. It gave me an insight into the fine details of the things we usually take for granted. I would encourage parents to take advantage of these initiatives,” Albert said.

Another parent Ilse Watlington from Blackheath said although she no longer has a minor child attending school, the topic was interesting enough that she would not miss it. “We do not have these things in our community, we read and see them in the media. It would be nice to have more of these sessions. More often we think bullying is only between learners but in some cases, teachers too, bully learners and a vice versa,” said Witlington. She added that the workshop would result in less violence at schools.

Bottomup director Ashley Visagie said after their engagements with learners they discovered there was a gap between schools and families. “For education to function properly it needs all three bodies (schools, families, children) to be involved and active,” he said adding that attendance is still low. He said they hope it will improve with time. Lotus principal Benjamini Pietersen said Bottomup has been working with his learners for some time and it has made a remarkable improvement on the participating learners. He said in most disadvantaged communities it is hard to get the full attention of a parent due to various factors in the surroundings. “We would love to see more parental involvement that would be a motivation to the learners,” Pietersen said.

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