Progress on drug and alcohol prevention programmes in schools

Basic Education

28 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms N Gina (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) briefed the joint committees on the progress of drug and alcohol prevention programmes, physical education and the roll-out of sports programmes in schools.

The drug and alcohol prevention programme involved a detailed strategy, with the main pillars focusing on an enabling environment, primary prevention, early detection and treatment, care and support. Teachers were being trained on how to pick up early warning signs. Physical education was gaining traction, with all schools expected to offer this course to all learners once a week. The two highlights from the DBE presentation included a mass participation and competitive school sport programme within a league format that had been set up, and a sport for development programme providing teachers with training.

A joint national task team had been set up by the DSR to monitor sport. The DSR was falling well below the ratio of learners to coaches required, and were not able to produce enough coaches/educators. A district format for sports tournaments had been put forward, but it would require a bigger budget. At the moment, it was limited to a top schools tournament. The advantage of the district format was that the best players were picked by scouts and it prevented talent from falling through the cracks. R870 million a year for ten years was required to support each school in the country to play two codes of sport. Provinces had been encouraged and provided with funding to run provincial tournaments aimed at increasing school participation in sports.

Members suggested that nutrition was an issue, as children lacking energy were unable to engage effectively in sport. Rural children were discriminated against, because of the lack of facilities in their areas. Gyms were a breeding place for drug abuse, and should be monitored. They asked how the Department could incentivise teachers financially to give up their free time for sports activities. Another challenge was the cost of transport facing children in poor communities for travel to inter-school sports events.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson said most disadvantaged schools were lacking opportunities for sport. There was a need to cultivate a healthy body through sport. The meeting was to establish from both departments how far the country had come in this area. Was there infrastructure, what were the challenges and could they be overcome? The meeting would be talking about school sports, which would hopefully lead to a programme of action.

Department of Basic Education (DBE) presentation

Ms Nozipho Xulu, Director: Safety, Enrichment and Sport, DBE, said the delivery of education is vital. The main question today is: how does one recreate a safe environment to tackle issues of alcohol and drugs in schools? The emphasis is to try curb alcohol and drugs, starting with gateway drugs. The Department’s strategy offers a comprehensive guideline for the prevention of alcohol and drugs in schools. The use of alcohol is topping the charts of abuses in schools, with 34.9% of learners using alcohol. This abuse affects the mental and physical health and academic performance of learners, often leading to accidents, injuries, crime and violence.

The pillars of the strategy include an enabling environment, primary prevention, early detection and treatment/care/support. It involves training teachers to pick up early warning signs and testing for drugs, to help the learners within the system. With the submission of provincial reports, updates on an implementation plan are provided. The DBE wants learners not to use drugs from the outset. Education and awareness programmes are the main drivers of the strategy. The strategy includes punitive measures for learners who do get caught.

Drugs include banned performance-enhancing drugs. It is often not a child on his or her own, but also includes parents and coaches, when learners are using sports-enhancing drugs. This is part of the strategy plan. There needs to be clear treatment and care for learners, and consent and support from parents.

Sport should uphold the spirit of sport, engaging in teamwork. Muscle-building steroids prematurely close growth plates, and thus stunt the growth of learners. There is a big issue here with parents and coaches who allow or encourage learners to use steroids in chasing sporting dreams. A key point is that the DBE is including doping within its future policy documents

Each school is expected to put time aside for sports. However, the implementation of this policy has been tricky. Life skills and life orientation is central to the overall development of learners. It is a pillar for the growth of the learner – social, personal, intellectual, physical and emotional growth. All learners from grade R to grade 12 are expected to participate in physical education (PE) once a week. For physical education, modification to the needs of learners will be taken into account.

Issues around physical education include a shortage of resources, equipment, teachers with a PE qualification and facilities.

The Chairperson asked for more clarity on what the number of teacher shortages was.

Ms Xulu said that she would try supply this figure at a later stage.

Two programmes had been rolled out in schools -- a Young Heroes Programme, promoting mass participation and competitive school sport within a league format, and a Sport for Development programme providing teachers with training and tools to run the intra-school programmes.

Department of Sport and Recreation (DSR) presentation

Mr Alec Moemi, Director General of the DSR, presented the school sports programme. A joint national task team has been set up to manage and co-ordinate the school sport programme, meeting quarterly to look at synergy and co-ordination. It includes training material, a coaching framework, delivery guidelines and policy work. The Department was meant to be churning out 17 000 teachers a year to meet targets, but currently only 3 500 teachers are being produced, well below the benchmark. In Australia, there is a ratio of one coach to 43 students. In SA, the ratio is one coach to 890 students. We are well below par compared to Australia. We need to improve to at least 1:50.

The Department of Sports and Department of Education are meant to train on separate topics within schools. There is a need to capacitate our teachers to do more with less -- for example, being able to know the dimensions of a volleyball court. Stars such as Lukas Radebe have come from poor facilities and dusty pitches, so more can be done with a little bit of input.

Junior tournaments are being set-up. The DSR opted for a top schools event, where schools play each other and knock each other out. This is due to budget limitations. A better option would be a district format. However, for a district format, talent scouts are needed to look at district teams, which are made up of the best players from that district. More resources -- around R50 million a year – are required to run a district tournament, but the DSR does not have this at the moment.

The department has developed a five-year school programme, encouraging schools to participate in tournaments. The Sports Department is small in terms of staff, with only 179 members and a limited budget. Therefore, inter-house and intra-house sports are the responsibility of the DBE and schools. Some schools have not played a sport in 20 years. These schools need support. R870 million a year for ten years is required to support each school in the country to play two sporting codes. The DSR’s budget is R1 billion a year at the moment so it would swallow up 87% of it. Only around 11 000 out of 15 000 schools, participate in school tournaments in SA. Limpopo and Mpumalanga are the only two provinces to organise proper provincial tournaments. The provinces must organise provincial tournaments. Some districts are organising tournaments. The Department is conducting spot checks on provinces, without warning, and money is frozen if they do not run these tournaments. For example, the Eastern Cape’s money was withdrawn. The problem is that the process of getting schools to participate takes too long.

Rapid growth has been seen from 2012 to 2014, with 15 000 participants currently. By 2017, the championship tournament is projected to host 25 000 learners, but it is not realistic or sustainable. We hope to split the championship into two parts, with a two tier system. The Department wants indigenous games --kgati, ncuva, dibeke, khokho, intonga, diketo, driestokkies, morababa and jukskei -- to be included in all schools, along with the five main codes: cricket, rugby, football, athletics and netball.

With regard to talent scouting, three talent scouts each need to give a learner 75% or more, to be nominated. This person then goes to a high performance centre/school on a bursary. They test the selected learner to see how strong the lungs and legs are, and test the reflexes and other skills. They can then determine if the learner will be successful or not, and either carry on the training or move them into another sport.

Discussion

Mr D Bergman (DA) said that transformation is not moving fast enough. It comes down to basics and working from the bottom up at school level. A broad programme was needed that targets siblings and parents when looking at drugs, as they may be taking drugs themselves. The elephant in the room regarding sports is the nutritional issue. Kids do not want to play sports because they do not have the energy from a good eating plan. The DBE is responsible for physical education and school sports. DSR is responsible for coaches, talent scouting and training. There needs to be a clear division between the responsibilities.

Mr P Moteka (EFF) said sport needs to be taken to the lower levels. Rural children are discriminated against. Of the 53 special schools selected by the DSR, how many are from rural and how many from urban? There should be more rural than urban. There should be no monetary blockages to the plan.

Ms D Manana (ANC) asked how much budget was going towards school sports, and what had the Department done to request a greater budget for school sports?

Ms H Boshoff (DA) said gyms need to be targeted for the drug programme, as they are breeding grounds for drug abuse. Are teachers able to pick up drug users? Doctors and specialists need to be involved. Six codes of the 16 have talent scouts – which ones are they? What, in monetary terms, is needed to reach the Department’s target?

Ms Abrahams (ANC) said she supported inter-school tournaments, as it encouraged sport.

Mr M Malatsi (DA) asked about learner transport, and what was being done to help learners get to and from sports.

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) said the Department needed to focus on physical education, given the constraints it had. The school championship which is running currently should be supported. The apartheid legacy has left schools poorer, so attention should be given to more money being allocated to the DBE. Drug testing should to be introduced through legislation.

Mr T Khoza (ANC) said until mass participation in sport was part of the curriculum, we are not going to get to where we want to be. It is expensive for rural schools to participate. How can one ensure that sport is not an option, but is part of the curriculum? The German schools have two hours a day set aside for sport for learners.

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) asked whether the memorandum of understanding between the departments was working for both departments. Whose responsibility was it for having qualified educators and coaches of sport? How does one incentivise teachers financially to implement sport after hours? Do educators have to wear suits and ties to sports practices?

Ms D van der Walt (DA) recommended an audit of all schools to see if they had a first aid room, facilities, sports coaches etc. In 2001, an amendment was made for the drug testing of learners. How many schools are implementing this legislation? 24 000 public schools would not have facilities overnight, but what was the role of local municipalities in providing facilities such as swimming pools and fields for schools? Schools which were not using their facilities properly had to be audited.

Mr M Mabika (NFP) said there was often no money for travelling to sports events -- does one put in a budget for a no-fee school? Municipalities are given a lot of money to help sport, but are they using it properly? The DSR should be held responsible. Municipalities make schools pay for using facilities, even no-fee schools.

Mr M Mpontshane (EFF) asked what the real budget for the programmes was. What support does the DBE give to teacher unions in regard to mass participation in sports?

Ms C Majeke (UDM) said there was a need to create drug free zones. What was the DBE doing to keep schools drug free? For example, food could be laced with drugs. What was being done to make sure children with drugs did not do it again?

Responses

Mr Enver Surty Deputy Minister of Basic Education, said legislation had been available since 2001 to search and seize drugs, alongside the police. If a sport takes place outside of school grounds, the DBE would need legislation to help achieve this. Sport should be promoted to reduce alcohol and drug abuse in SA.

The issue of budget was challenging. For the DSR, the amount allocated to them was very limited. The budget for sport is very small in education too. One should look at sharing facilities amongst municipalities and schools, with the budget and responsibility lying with the DSR.

Physical education (PE) is part of the curriculum. Practical levels of this curriculum need to be developed. PE is less complicated. It requires only university training, as opposed to specialized sports and coaching.

Should sports be compulsory, and which sporting codes are available? The Department did not have the budget or staff for this, though. The big five codes are emphasised. Every learner needs to have the opportunity to play sport. Inter-school and intra-school sport needs to be managed by the schools themselves. The minimum codes should be available at all schools.

As new schools are built, they come with new sports facilities. In the vicinity of schools, sports facilities must be available. The memorandum of understanding must go beyond the DSR and DBE, to include the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Teachers are obliged to provide time for extra mural activities -- all teacher unions agree with this and it is part of their contract. If they do not do it, teachers should be up for disciplinary action.

An audit of school facilities has been carried out by the DSR. The Department should ask about sports amenities -- equipment and facilities -- in its annual recording sheets to schools.

For the first time, district directors are meeting together. A joint presentation must be made by both departments to these directors. There must be a joint technical team and task team from both departments. There must be dedicated district personnel who will join the task team. Sport needs to become a core activity at the district level.

Sports federations need to get involved. The Department needs to revisit how federations allocate their money into rural areas.

Regarding transport, the Department of Transport needs to be engaged regarding this link to sport, and how learners can be shuttled to sports games.

On the subject of nutrition, a dedicated “Sport Wednesday” could be promoted, for example. It may be necessary to look at a one day full meal option, to feed learners and give them energy for that dedicated sports day. Districts need to be engaged on this.

Mr Khalid Galant, CEO of the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport, said the Schools Act had been amended, and although drug testing was not the answer, it would help. Clearer legislation had been provided in dealing with drugs.

Mr Moemi responded that the DSR has a budget of around R1 billion, and R270 million goes to sport bodies, R205 million to operations and salaries and R525 million to provinces, with 40% ring fenced for school sports. 20% was dedicated to no-fee paying schools. The DSR could not give teacher unions money or incentivise them in that way.

On the issue of renting of sports facilities from municipalities, it had been agreed that rental facilities could not be given for free. However, there would be open days when schools can use them for free. It is impractical to give this facility for free all the time. The Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town will not allow it for free. Wednesdays for school sports, and Saturdays for communities, are the free days. If municipalities do not play ball, they will be taken to task.

On the rural/urban split query, Mr Moemi said he wished to differ on having more rural than urban schools as a means to development. The criteria for specialised schools are that they must have facilities and be rich in sport. If one tried start from scratch with schools that had nothing, the DSR would not have enough resources. The learner must pass to be on a sports bursary in specialised schools. Where rural schools are found with strong facilities, they are added to the specialised school list. Schools must encourage transformation, or they will be taken to task.

For the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), the issue is who has to do the training? As long as training is accredited by the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), anyone should be allowed to train coaches and educators. However, SASCOC has the budget for training and will work hand in hand with the Department and organisations to reach the DSR targets.

Mr Moteka again asked for the split between rural and urban specialised schools.

Ms J Basson (ANC) asked what was being done about netball, as it is neglected in SA.

Mr Moemi said the Department would submit a list of schools to Mr Moteka. It looked at capacity, not whether they were rural or urban.

South Africa is ranked in the top five in the world in netball due to the DSR’s support. South African Breweries (SAB) is sponsoring netball now, and there will be the first netball league this year, making it professional. It will follow the rugby format, and take ten years to turn netball around. All the teams were owned by Netball SA. The Baby Spar Proteas were being invested in heavily.

The meeting was adjourned.

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