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Non-Violent schools campaign


    The Non-Violent Schools Campaign aims to increase the number of people in schools who are prepared to be active against all forms of violence so that constructive teaching and learning to take place.

    We engage teachers in learning how to deliver the curriculum in creative and relevant ways and how to embed the message of non-violence in every lesson. Teachers take part in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops and are trained as facilitators in AVP. They thus can impart to pupils an alternate way to solve conflict than resorting to violence. We assist and support them to set up and maintain Peace Clubs at their schools and to invite pupils to join the clubs so that they, together with school management and teachers, share the responsibility of reducing the levels of school violence.

    Pupils who join the clubs call themselves Peace Buddies and participate in camps, indabas and workshops delivered by the Quaker Peace Centre (QPC). The activities are fun and exciting and challenge the current notion that violence is acceptable, entertaining and attractive. Peace Buddies also participate in AVP which enables them to learn how to deal with conflict in a non-violent way.

    The schools we work in are situated in low-income communities which are often besieged by gang activity; drug abuse is rife and violence is inevitable. Many of the young people are disillusioned; they see many unemployed people in their communities and believe that the only ones with money and cars are gangsters; gangsterism has become a way of obtaining material things and status.

    According to scenario planning expert, Clem Sunter, there are three indicators that warn of a possible youth uprising:

    . The abnormally high youth unemployment.

    . Their access to active social networking.

    . The growing alienation between youth and authority.

    South Africa has a youth unemployment rate of 48.2% (male 44.6%, female 52.6%) among the 15 to 24 year old age group, mobile phone penetration of over 100% with internet enabled smart phones rapidly on the rise, and there is descent between the ruling party and its youth wing.

    Our work gives young people hope and shows them that there is another way of being and doing things. We show young people that they can safeguard against a future in gangs and crime by making better choices, completing their education, choosing the non-violent alternative and finding a purpose in life.
    Our project has the support of the director of the Metro South Education District of the Western Cape Education Department, with whom we interact on a regular basis.

    Our work underwent an external evaluation by ON PAR development who commented that “QPC with its NVSC campaign has attained significant progress, albeit within very challenging circumstances.” (M&E Report November 2011).

    Our activities include:

    . Workshops

    . Behaviour management

    . The caring curriculum

    . Gender training for young women

    . Gender training for young men

    . AVP residential weekends

    .Events and presentations

    . Presentations

    . Indabas

    . Camps

    . Support groups

    . Hikes


    . To use experiential and creative learning methods to assist teachers and pupils to develop confidence in their own ability to deal with problems without resorting to violence.

    . Gender training for young women to enable the voices of young women to be heard by increasing their self-confidence and encouraging their involvement in relevant social issues.

    . To pilot a gender course for male peace club members using creative arts such as drawing and painting, drama and music, to assist young men to access their emotions and understand and value a masculinity that does not depend on devaluing and dominating women.

    . To bring together the young men and young women who have undergone such training for a joint training session to share their experience and envisage a mutually respectful way forward.

    . To train teachers, principals and education officials in the skills and strategies required to manage behaviour and discipline in a 21st century classroom.

    . To do Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) training with teachers and pupils to assist them to make beneficial changes in their personal lives.

    . To implement the ‘Peace Buddies in Action” manual with teachers and education officials as examples of how relevant curriculum material can help to reduce the incidence of violence at school.

    . To present our original anti-racism materials, the “Carmen & Thando” audio drama series and the audio documentary, “Cracking the Hard Nut: overcoming racial prejudice at school”, to curriculum advisors at the education department to promote their use in schools to assist teachers in dealing with racial prejudice, xenophobia and gender-based violence.

    . To hold an annual indaba for Peace Buddies where issues of gender, alternatives to violence and best practise for non-violent schools will be debated and shared.

    . To run an annual camp for Peace Buddies.

    . To establish a support system for teachers, principals and AVP facilitators by holding biennial meetings where experiences can be shared and problems solved.

    . To write and produce a full-colour comic book to be used in gender training for young men.

    . To write and produce a full colour manual on behaviour and discipline management for use by teachers, principals and education officials.


    Though we have conducted gender training for young women members of peace clubs for a number of years, there has been no equivalent training for young men, whose roles have been in a state of constant flux in South Africa since 1994. The new Constitution gives equal rights to men and women, but in reality, there is a yawning gulf between practice and this ideal. Men may feel that it is an historical male prerogative to exercise authority over their wives and children, but with high and rising unemployment, many men are no longer able to be breadwinners, and this may well be directly connected to the violence against women and children, which has reached epidemic proportions. If we are to reduce the high levels of violence against women and children, young men as well as young women must be exposed to gender training.

    Thus in 2013, we will pilot 15 hour gender training courses for young men members of peace clubs, using creative arts such as drawing and painting, drama and music, to assist young men to access their emotions and understand and value a masculinity that does not depend on devaluing and dominating women.
    The course will culminate in a joint two-day hike for participants from different schools which will use the opportunities afforded by a new and challenging environment to evaluate old ways of thinking and behaving, and to forge new relationships.

    Thereafter there will be a joint seminar where young men and women participants in the gender training will be brought together to share their experience and envisage a mutually respectful way forward.

    In 2014 we will produce a full colour comic book for use in gender training of young men, and in 2015 we will implement gender training for young men using this resource.


    Awareness programmes for young women are not freely offered in the Cape Metropole area and even if there were programmes young women would not be able to attend because of a lack of transport. Young women are therefore not aware of their rights with regard to negotiating healthy relationships or developing a vision for their own future which includes completing their education and training.

    Young women are ill-equipped to deal with abuse and violence which is rife in their immediate environment and is widely accepted and remains unchallenged as the norm, with a widespread belief that women have to endure this.

    There is a further belief amongst some young men that they have the right to demand sexual favours from the women with whom they are in a relationship.

    Given that so many young men are unemployed in South Africa these young men find it difficult to attract women. They therefore resort to aggression and violence in the fallacious belief in male dominance and female subjugation and that they have the right to assert their manhood.

    The work with young women is to empower them to challenge these behaviours and attitudes and to be able to assert themselves.

    Committed and interested teachers participate to increase their awareness of issues facing young women so that they can include the issues in the lessons that they teach. We also encourage teachers to undertake similar work both inside and outside the classroom.


    AVP addresses sources of anger and violence by letting participants explore their own feelings and those of others. They acquire insight into their own and other people’s feelings and reactions. AVP offers participants new ways of communicating with one another and strategies to de-escalate conflict and resolve conflict non-violently.

    Taking participants away for training over the weekend enables them to get out of their often violent communities. Weekend training provides plenty of opportunity to process and discuss newly learnt concepts of AVP between sessions and during meals; this enables participants to delve more deeply into issues and learn by sharing which makes it easier to digest new ideas.

    Community-building is one of the pillars of an AVP workshop. The facilitating team spells out to participants that during the 20 hour workshop they will participate in activities that will demonstrate the value of community and show them how to form a community. The community referred to is as an alternative to individualism and provides a safe space for sharing.

    AVP community outside of the workshop is an interest group which holds a commonly shared set of values which seeks to give expression to those values by individual and group activities.

    Weekend residential training sets a good example of and provides opportunity for community-building.

  • Behaviour management

    Since the banning of corporal punishment in 1998 in all South African schools, the education department has not provided adequate training for teachers in alternative discipline procedures. Teachers who still use corporal punishment argue that they know no other effective way to discipline pupils; it is clear then that there is a great need for training in positive discipline. The Director of Education in the Metropole Education District (MSED), Mr Glen van Harte, has emphasized that behaviour management training, which includes anti-bullying, is urgently needed in his district. In response to this need, we will conduct behaviour management courses which include anti-bullying, with teachers, principals and education officials.

    Participants will be assisted to see how corporal punishment at schools does little but teach young people that physical violence is an acceptable way of dealing with conflict of any sort.

    The course deals with curriculum content, how it is taught and the relationship to pupil behaviour. During the transition from corporal punishment to positive discipline, behaviour management necessarily relies on systems of consequences and rewards to elicit appropriate behaviour. However, the course will go beyond conventional classroom management and assist teachers to develop self-disciplined pupils who are self motivated to succeed in their studies.

    Once teachers know how to manage their classes without resorting to violence, they will no longer feel as powerless, which will go a long way towards reducing the levels of stress they are currently suffering. Once pupils acknowledge that obstructive behaviour will not be tolerated, they will realise that it is easier to be co-operative and do their work, which will contribute to more functional schools with fewer pupils dropping out to engage in anti-social activities.

    A full colour manual on behaviour management in the classroom will be written in 2013 and produced in 2014.


    In order for the message and values of non-violence to be remembered by pupils, they must be embedded in the curriculum and repeated daily. If the values of non-violence are taught only once a week in a Life Orientation class, they will soon be forgotten. The media, on the other hand, offers pupils glamorised images of violence on a daily basis.

    Although numeracy and literacy are high on the agenda of education authorities in South Africa - with little success thus far – minimal attention is paid to the development of the whole child in the working class schools in which we work. There is an obvious need for a curriculum that would nurture the emotional and social development of pupils. Such a curriculum would teach both pupils and teachers about self-respect, respect for others, the environment and the planet. It would encourage the celebration of diversity, tolerance of differences and the acceptance of people for who they are, in a multi-cultural and diverse world. It would also teach co-operation and how to solve conflict non-violently.

    From 2009 - 2010 we worked with teachers, exploring ways of teaching the current curriculum using creative methods within contexts that have meaning and currency for young people. Ideas were gathered, collated, further researched and written up in 2012, and published as a manual entitled “Peace Buddies in Action.” We will train teachers and subject advisors how to use this resource at schools.


    Work on overcoming racial prejudice began in mid-2005 as a response to the race-related killing of a child at a high school on the Cape Flats. The objective of the work was to afford young people an opportunity to engage critically with the racial and gender prejudice that still informs public and private life some eighteen years after apartheid, and to commit themselves to working toward overcoming their own prejudice.

    From 2008 to 2010, we produced a series of three 45-minute audio dramas which feature two young people, Carmen and Thando, who cross racial lines. These characters are both from poor, marginalised communities outside of Cape Town which are in competition for scarce resources such as housing. In the first drama, they have to confront their own and others’ ingrained racial prejudice. In the second, the ugly spectre of xenophobia appears in the community gardens that they have established, and its connection to corruption is unmasked. In the third, Thando is forced to come to terms with what it might mean to be a man today, and the cultural complexity attendant upon that meaning. There is great pressure on boys of his age to undergo traditional circumcision although the meaning of the rite has changed radically over time. Similarly, young girls are under great pressure to accede to violent sexual overtures from men.

    We found that using a story is an effective way of bypassing the resistance to discussing uncomfortable topics like racial prejudice, xenophobia and gender discrimination. Besides being a relatively inexpensive medium (compared to a visual medium like film) audio drama requires listeners to draw upon their own imaginative resources. It is also an eminently practical medium for use in underprivileged schools as all that is needed is a CD player.

    In 2011 we continued to train teachers to work with racially charged issues in their classrooms using the “Carmen and Thando” audio drama series, on which teachers have placed great value as a teaching tool. A weekly SABC 2 television programme on education, “Mother of all Professions”, approached the Diversity campaign to film “Carmen and Thando” workshops at three schools and to interview teachers and learners there, as well as campaign leaders from QPC. The episode was screened on 19 May 2012.

    However, it has become clear to us that in a climate where racial prejudice is increasing alarmingly, our anti-racism resources need to be distributed more widely in schools than we can manage as a small campaign. We have therefore decided to present the audio drama series and the audio documentary to curriculum advisors of the Metropole South Education District in 2013, with follow up presentations in 2014 and 2015, in order that they recommend and distribute the resources to teachers.


    These events give Peace Buddies and Peace Educators a rare opportunity to share experiences with peace clubs, network with schools, improve communication between teachers, pupils, and the education department and develop best practice for teaching the values of peace and non-violent conflict resolution.


    These events provide teachers and pupils an opportunity to spend time working together to identify problems encountered in schools, experience co-operative learning, build healthy relationships, and learn how to teach and practise non-violent conflict resolution. Camps expose Peace Buddies to the values of non-violence and thus help to shape their attitudes and clarify their roles and responsibilities as Peace Buddies. They also are an effective way of encouraging relationships between Peace Buddies from different schools, thus helping to build social cohesion and generating enthusiasm and eagerness to attend the indabas.


    These give teachers, principals and facilitators a forum to share their experiences and problems with their peers and find common solutions in a supportive context.

    We acknowledge that teachers, principals and AVP facilitators need ongoing support from QPC as well as from their peers. Monthly Saturday teacher training had to be dropped because the education department frequently requires teachers to attend meetings on Saturday mornings.

    In order to maintain the campaign against violence in schools, we need to retain regular contact with the teachers. We plan to hold two support group meetings each year which will give teachers, principals and AVP facilitators an opportunity to share their experiences and problems with each other and find common solutions as a team. We have learnt that these opportunities help them to manage their stress which is very high in the teaching profession in South Africa. We believe that this support will motivate them to remain active in the Non-Violent Schools Campaign.

    1. The School Code of Conduct must address the issue of bullying and must be supported by an unambiguous anti-bullying policy.
    2. Teachers and pupils must both be made aware of what to do about bullying - whether they are victims, bullies or bystanders.
    3. A staff meeting at the beginning of each year must inform all staff about bullying and how to deal with it.
    4. Bullying must be taken seriously.
    5. Both the bully and the victim need help.
    6. Life orientation sessions must deal with bullying and the role of the bystander.
    7. The concept of the active bystander needs to be pursued actively.
    8. Bullying needs to be dealt with in the curriculum e.g. in creative writing and using the arts.
    9. The issue of bullying must be dealt with regularly in school assembly.
    10. The Childline SA number 0800 55 555 must be visibly displayed for pupils.

    Teachers will acquire new skills to stimulate and engage the interest of young people by using creative and experiential methods to teach the values of non-violence. The teachers will acquire these skills through workshops provided by the Non-Violent Schools Campaign, supported by original materials which they will use in their classrooms. The materials comprise a caring curriculum manual which demonstrates how teachers can embed the message of non-violence in all lessons, an audio drama series dealing with racial prejudice, xenophobia and gender discrimination, an audio documentary on the experience of students and teachers dealing with racial prejudice in 3 schools, a book of stories dramatising real life experience of students and an anti-bullying comic book. Publications that will be added in 2014 are a manual on behaviour management and a comic book dealing with gender issues. Teachers will continue to benefit by these resources when our active contribution has ended and the skills they have acquired will be of value to them for the rest of their teaching careers.

    Our experience has shown that students who have been active in the peace clubs after school hours have made significant progress in their academic achievements. For example, all the peace club members at Maitland High School passed their matriculation exams and a number of former peace club members are presently studying at university. This is an achievement given the poor academic record at the majority of the schools we deal with. This supports our basic belief that all students need a school environment in which they are treated with kindness and respect and their voices are heard, in order for them to develop confidence in their ability to solve problems: critical thinking skills are key here. Thus we are confident that peace clubs will continue to be established by teachers and students in the future.

    Teachers are also afforded the opportunity to be trained in the Alternatives to Violence Project with the aim of reducing the incidence of violence at schools through improved communication and offering the same training to their students. This cycle of training can continue after our initial contribution has ended.

    We trust that pupils will go into the world better equipped to make better choices after experiencing the Non-Violent Schools Campaign.


Resilience to Violence Campaign

Resilience is the ability to adapt positively to adversity.

Non-Violent Parenting Campaign

Work with young parents and parents of teenagers is very popular.

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