Special school assemblies to discuss rape

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pretoria - The Department of Basic Education, in partnership with LEAD SA, has announced a major initiative to raise awareness and educate South Africa's 10.2 million learners about rape.

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, has issued a directive to all provincial education departments to instruct schools across the country to call special assemblies at 8am on 1 March, where learners will be addressed about rape and sexual crimes.

“Following the singing of the National Anthem, we want principals, educators, learners or activists to address the assemblies for 15 minutes about rape and sexual crimes. The focus will be on education/awareness and more importantly what to do,” Motshekga explained.

She added that the department will provide guidelines for the talks and NGOs were encouraged to assist with the mornings’ talks.

A Rape Response Booklet and Pledge, based on the Bill of Responsibilities which includes a statement on violence and rape, will also be circulated.

Motshekga urged educators and learners to adopt the pledge at the assemblies.

The booklet and a poster, which will help to guide educators on how to cope with this sensitive topic, can be downloaded on the department’s website.

The pledge will be available in all 11 official languages. The department has called on all schools to prepare worksheets for learners about violent and sexual crimes.

“We want boy and girl learners to complete these worksheets at home, with their families if possible, and return them to their teachers. It’s part of the education/awareness programme,” said the minister.

She said the initiative was “critical not only to highlight the rape bane but also to educate our children”.

March 1 is the start of Human Rights Month, and Motshekga stressed the need to also teach the youth about their rights and responsibilities as per the Bill of Responsibilities.

She encouraged each and every citizen to also adopt the pledge, after it has been taken by millions of learners on 1 March 2013. “Take it to your offices, factories and homes…Say NO to rape, we call on civil society to support the “StopRape” initiative.”

She further appealed to learners to report any form of abuse from anyone to the authorities.

Lead SA said the partnership woul go a long way in heightening awareness and education.

“We also hope the 10.2 million learners will take the messages home so that society at large can act. The ‘StopRape’ message needs to reach every corner of South Africa. Let’s all unite and fight rape with one voice,” said Lead SA.

Proudly South African and Shout SA have already come out in support of the awareness programme.

Proudly South African said it will also include the messaging in its national “Ubuntu schools” campaign which was launched shortly after the gang rape of a Soweto teenager in April last year.

In his reply to the State of the Nation address in the National Assembly on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma commended the Department of Basic Education for “looking at inculcating values of nationhood at an early age, promoting rights and responsibilities among children.

“We acknowledge and applaud the good work of many civil society organisations that are raising awareness about violence against women and many other issues affecting society,” President Zuma said. – SAnews.gov.za