On the 15th of June 2019 Africa Unite hosted the Anti-Xenophobia School Summit, at the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in Mowbray, Cape Town. The following 8 Schools attended the summit; our 6 Africa Unite School Clubs; Dr Nelson Mandela High School (Nyanga), Hector Peterson High School (Kraaifontein), Masibambane Secondary School (Kraaifontein), Heideveld High School (Heideveld), Rosendaal High School (Delft) and Portland High School (Mitchell’s Plain). In addition, Gardens Commercial High School (Cape Town) and Elsies River High School (Elsies River) which are part of the UNESO MGIEP’s Digital Inter-Cultural Exchange and Libre programs; also attended the summit.
The Anti-Xenophobia School Summit was aimed at sensitising the learners on the diversity of the experiences of migrants and the realities of the immigration process. Henceforth, this summit was to dismantle some of the myths surrounding migration which create the foundation of xenophobic attitudes which in turn lead to violence.
We had 64 participants on the day and in order to give the background on the migration issues and challenges which foreign nationals are facing in South Africa, 4 young speakers were invited who are migrants from Congo, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. One of the speakers was a young refugee student who also performed his music which is based on his migration story. They all touched on the experiences as migrants which range from why individuals migrate from country to country such as the push and pull factors, their migration journey, lack of integration, language barriers in the new countries, identity issues, emotional struggles, exclusion at school, difficulty obtaining refugee status which results in lack of job opportunities and other general stereotypes against them which creates a sense of otherness towards migrants.
Following the presentations from different speakers the learners were divided into four small working groups to discuss further the following questions:
- What are the push and pull factors of migration? Why do people migrate?
- Why do people in your community have negative feelings towards migrants? Why is this mainly towards black foreign nationals?
- How does migration effect your community? What is Xenophobia to you, and how does it manifest in your community?
- What do local officials have to say about migration? What have you heard people in positions of power say, and what effect does this have?
- What can you/your community/your school do to address the violence in your schools and communities?
Thereafter each group discussed the above topics and after discussion the group presented their findings to the rest of the participants. Each presentation sparked more of a dialogue between all the learners and from this discussion.
The learners put forward the following recommendations:
- The learners recognised that while xenophobia is a massively complex and multi-layered issue which is unlikely to be resolved in its entirety, however they contended that it can certainly be minimised and combatted. To this end they proposed that each school needs to continue a similar dialogues in their respective schools to spread what they had learned through the summit and from their peers.
- The learners emphasised that an African identity which is shared across boarders needs to be built in South Africa through Life Orientation curriculum at school.
- An educational campaign on the positive impact of migration must be promoted within schools further creating awareness on the issue.
- The schools need to develop some visible posters which promote social cohesion against xenophobia, racism and all other violence.
- The learners will encourage migrant learners to share their Testimonials as a method to education which can create solidarity and empathy.
- The learners recommend that the Department of Education must declare that all schools must be free from discrimination, racism and xenophobia.
- The learners recommended that politicians should stop making foreign nationals a scapegoat from their failure in service delivery. But rather hold government accountable, and promote Ubuntu and Africa Agenda 2063.
In conclusion the learners are committed to spread the information gained during the summit to their schools and communities.
Special thank you to Tshisamane Activits Center for providing us with a free venue, Speakers of the day, the principals and teachers who joined us throughout the day. And a thank you from the learners who participated.
For more pictures: https://www.instagram.com/africaunite.umojawaafrica/