Department on Child Abuse, Sexual Violence & Sexuality Education: briefing; SABC Education Report on School TV 2002: briefing

Basic Education

18 February 2001
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Meeting report

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 February 2002
DEPARTMENT ON CHILD ABUSE, SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION: BRIEFING; SABC EDUCATION REPORT ON SCHOOL TV 2002: BRIEFING

Chair: Prof S Mayatula

DOCUMENTS HANDED OUT:
Managing Sexual violence and abuse in schools
Report on School TV 2002

SUMMARY
The Chief Director: Human Resources Development and Gender Equality, Department of Education briefed the committee on sexual abuse and violence in schools and strategies to combat this phenomenon as well as departmental strategies for the year 2002 in regard to this issue. The main problem was that of teachers having affairs with learners as well as rape amongst learners themselves and indeed by some teachers. The Committee raised concerns about the implementation of these strategies.

The SABC Education division informed the committee about the School TV project which was started in 1999. The team which made the presentation emphasised the multilingual character of the project. The problem however was the accessibility of the programme to rural schools without TV facilities.

MINUTES
Department on Sexual Violence & Abuse in Schools
Ms Palesa Tyobeka, the Chief Director: Human Resources Development and Gender Equality, Department of Education made a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on managing sexual violence and abuse in schools. She informed the committee that her portfolio is responsible for s educational management in schools which includes ensuring a safe learning environment in schools. This is not a new problem but due to silence, it had been less publicised before. A major problem was the ongoing perpetuation of inequality between males and females.

She also pointed out that it was pleasing to note that the new constitution is having a central role in helping people to report incident of sexual abuse and violence. Sexual harassment was a key challenge compounded by persistent attitudes amongst society about gender. A problematic issue is inappropriate relations between learners and teachers; this she pointed out, is very widespread in South African schools. In some cases the family condones some of these relationships because the teacher is financially capable of looking after the girl and the particular family itself.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are also prevalent, however, the biggest problem is that victims are reluctant to report these incidents and even if reported, schools are generally very tardy in dealing with the reported cases. Ms Tyobeka also added that a lack of support structures and systems for victims like counseling programmes was also a problem.

Current Interventions to address the problem.
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An important area here is the life skills programme incorporated into Curriculum 2005 to develop in learners the necessary skills, knowledge, values and attitudes.
-The immediate dismissal of teachers for sexual abuse offences as according to an amendment to the Employment of Educators Act (1998)
-'Signposts to safe schools' is a joint projects with the SAPS intended to provide schools with strategies to address violence in schools.
-The development of a module in conjunction with CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) has been piloted in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State to discourage stereotypes amongst educators relating to sexual abuse and sexual orientation.
-A handbook for Gender Equality in education has been compiled for teachers.

Ms Tyobeka then went on to inform the committee that this year the department has decided to embark on a two-pronged strategy which includes a dedicated campaign to restore public confidence in their ability to protect children from abuse. There is also the intensification of educational processes for teachers.



Restoring the public's confidence in teachers as a strategy includes whistle blowing where such offences are encountered and in this regard a toll free number for victims would be set up. Secondly, the establishment of a task team to ensure and monitor the implementation of policies will be set up.



She also pointed out that school support teams for face to face counseling of victims of abuse will be prioritised. Lastly, a self-defence project in the eighteen nodal areas to empower all learners and teachers physically so as to defend themselves against attacks has been kick started
Under educational processes for teachers, interventions to date include to review the current preservice and in-service curricular and programmes to ensure the preparation of teachers on Human Rights education, gender sensitivity, ethics in the teaching profession and educators as care givers.

Discussion
Ms E Gandhi (ANC) asked about the issue of teacher dismissals.In her constituency, a teacher had been suspended due to such an offence and the hearing was still pending. Would the teacher be dismissed if found guilty?

Ms D Motubatse (ANC) noted that the context of the report was problematic. The way it was being presented, it seemed to be a particularly post 1994 problem whereas it was not and this as far as she is concerned needs to be clarified. On the issue of support for rape victims, she asked if this included HIV/Aids counseling? She also expressed her feeling that self-defence mechanisms should focus more on the girl than the boy child.

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked what happened to disciplining teachers having an affair with a learner in another school?

Mr M Mpontshane (IFP) commended the departmental efforts in trying to address this problematic issue. He asked the Chief Director if cultural traits could be described as being a form of sexual harassment. How offensive content in radios and TV as well as in the print media be controlled?

Ms Tyobeka replied on the issue of dismissals by saying that internal disciplinary processes were dependent on the court system, if the accused is found guilty, then dismissal was outright without going to the courts.
On the issue of HIV/Aids she noted that the department recognised the link between sexual abuse and violence to HIV/Aids. As such the module for teachers had a component on HIV/Aids
On the issue of self-defence she concurred with the MP that the focus is more on the girl child than the boy child.
On the issue of the definition of sexual harassment, she pointed out that there is a handbook which defined this, but she did admit though that cultural orientations are generally difficult to harmonise with a proper way of gender relations.

On the issue of the influence of the media, she pointed out that they have some communication with SABC Education but she pointed out that she was not in a position to respond as she does not deal with the issue directly.

Mr S Mfundisi (UCDP) asked what happens after the teacher has been dismissed by the department and the courts discharge him of the offence?

Mr A Abrahams (UDM)- asked what can the department do about subtle forms of harassment where the abuse is not reported?

Mr R Ntuli (DP) asked what benchmarks did the department intend to put in place so that the public could be alerted to this being a crisis, not just at the top, but at grass-roots level as well as there seemed to be a downplaying of the seriousness of this situation in schools.

Mr W Niewoudt (ANC) asked if these interventions also included schools for the disabled or just meant for 'normal schools'?

Mr Tyobeka replied to the issue of teacher dismissal by saying that each case is treated according to its own merits.
On the issue of subtle harassment, she pointed out that it is difficult for the department to act if people did not speak out on these issues.
On the issue of the filtering down of commitment to the programme, she pointed out that their hope was sincerely that such commitment was top down, where it matters most.
On the question of access to the disabled, she pointed out that their approach was based on an inter-departmental focus such that a wide range of stakeholders have a role to play in the project.

Mr M Kgwele (ANC) felt that the approach should be to assess the extent of the problem because it was not new, but had always been there. The issue of voluntary community counseling to help the victims could be a possible venture to be explored as well. Schools should have a code of conduct within each particular school is adhered to, where it exists, and also establish one where it is absent.

Mr K Moonsamy (ANC) pointed out that what was happening was a terrible reflection on the teacher organisations. He felt that the movements were not doing much if anything about the problem.

Mr M Njobe (ANC) pointed out that the best way to tackle a problem was to understand the particular problem. The focus should reflect on the wider socio-economic as well as cultural environments as influential behaviour agents.

The chair Professor Mayatula asked if the toll free number was operational and also how the division of the nodal areas was structured as this might not be common knowledge.

Ms Tyobeka pointed out that the extent of the abuse could not be clearly quantified as due to the reluctance in reporting of these incidents from the public.
On the issue of teacher organisations involvement, she pointed out that this programme includes collaboration with these organisations since they were also concerned about clearing their image to the public. She replied to the toll free question by saying that it was not yet operational and that the eighteen nodes referred to are the nodes in terms of the regional break down structure of the department and also those for the Urban Renewal Project as well as for the Integrated Rural Development project.


PRESENTATION BY SABC EDUCATION

Ms Y Kgame, acting head of the division, informed the committee that SABC Education is an independent but bonafide part of the SABC.

She pointed out that the mission of the division was to deliver the SABC's educational mandate by providing quality products and services that effectively address the educational needs of various audiences. The strengths of the division which include, project managing the development and delivery of high quality educational broadcast content, development of internationally award-winning South African programmes like Yizo-Yizo, expertise in forging strategic partnerships and accessing donor and sponsorship funding.

She said that strategic objectives of the division include schooling where resources supporting the new curriculum would be developed. Secondly, embracing and delivering on key National Literacy, Teacher Training and AIDS initiatives. Broadcast media content preserved and developed national culture, identity, language, history and heritage as one of the strategic objectives. Future opportunities for growth include the establishment of a single multi-media department relevant to our audiences and effectively delivering their public service mandate , innovation in the evolving global new media, the development of and access to new markets in Africa, the forging of joint ventures to enable broader reach, shared resources(financial and human) for content development as well as others.

Ms Kgame noted that as part of its objectives, the SABC Education division stated that , " we recognise the importance of life-long learning to be the heart of our times as expressed in, 'The Learning Age' . This was seen in the light of the fact that to achieve stable and sustainable growth a well-educated , well-equipped and adaptable labour force would be required.



She then focussed on School TV where the she informed the committee that the vision of this sub-division was to become Africa's leading provider of innovative learning resources for primary schooling. The Brand Values of School TV include the fact that it is universal and inclusive, fun and entertaining, innovative and informative as well as being responsible and committed to sound educational principles and standards. SABC Education had partners which include the Department of Education, both national and provincial, as well as other sponsors like The Mail and Guardian through its 'The Teacher' edition.

School TV is a multilingual project as an educational strategy for making multilingualism happen; and is meant to be interactive through the Web, Internet and email. An important consideration to bear in mind is that the project is catering for diverse cultural contexts transmitting the same information to promote cultural diversity. School TV promotes equity as well as national culture and identity and that this enriches minds and lives where culture was not just a high culture, but a defining element in our lives; those things which make us who we are.
Research undertaken has shown that the reach of the School TV project was about 84% of its target population whereas schools using the project made-up about 25% which could definitely be improved on.

Funding for School TV was important because SABC Education was not funded by advertising revenue, but rather relied on grants, donations and budget allocations from the channels. Greater external funding for sustainable growth for the School TV project was needed on a year-to-year basis. There was a need to secure a multi-year funding commitment so as to plan proactively and sustain high levels of service delivery.

Discussion
Mr. M Mpontshane (IFP) asked for greater collaboration between the committee and the SABC Education division in identifying the rural schools which needed this programmes urgently.

Ms I Mutsila (ANC) asked how the division intended to carryout its 'reach the unreachable areas'. How does the division plan to combat the misuse of the website by misfits in society.

Mr M Kgwele (ANC) asked what is the linkage between the SABC and the Department of Education in terms of the availability and accessibility of the programme looking at the low number of schools (25%) using the programme.

Ms P Mnandi (ANC) asked if School TV was receiving any funds from the Department of Education. What is the role of the private sector in helping to get audio-visual equipment to the rural schools in particular?

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked if parent manuals could be developed and provided for those children who were not yet going to school?

Ms Y Kgame replied that collaboration identifying schools needing it most was a definite possibility and negotiations were under way. The team was open to further advice and inputs. In response to the issue of languages being marginalised, she pointed out that admittedly, people in the far North are not properly included. Progress in addressing the issue was underway as programmes like Takalani Sesame werre also broadcast in Venda and Tsonga as well as on the radio versions in the stations representing these language groups. Regarding the relations with the Department of Education, she pointed out that there used to be a memorandum of understanding between the two parties and even though that had expired, negotiations for its renewal are underway.

Mr Makhubu, also from the SABC, pointed out that greater collaboration between the Chair and the SABC could be discussed, but he felt that this was an issue which was extensive and therefore, time would have to be set aside to discuss it on another day.

Ms Y Kgame concluded that the division was unfortunately not funded by the Department of Education but last year R34 million was made available to the SABC Education department in general of which a portion had been allocated to School TV.

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