On the weekend of the 2nd to 4th of August, Africa Unite hosted their Africa Unite School Leadership camp for the school club in KwaZulu-Natal. The camp took place at Vuleka Trust Centre in Hillcrest, Pine Town.
During the weekend, we hosted our club members from Ikusasalentsha High School (Inanda), Kwadinabakubo High School (Molweni-Pinetown) and Lamontville High School (Lamontville) in KwaZulu Natal. Our school clubs are based in communities which are plagued by poverty, gangsterism, high rate of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, lack of proper schooling infrastructure and poor basic service delivery; from textbooks delivery to water and electricity. These factors create an overall low academic work performance.
Africa Unite brought our young leaders together at Vuleka Trust Centre in Hillcrest Pinetown with a staff that ensured a successful training by providing a conducive and comfortable learning environment. The purpose of the camp was to provide a space for the youth to sit and engage with the issues which they are battling with at school and in their surrounding communities. They were also capacitated to understand their roles and responsibilities as cabinet members and parliamentarians of their respective clubs. After the training, the learners were tasked to come up with solutions to eradicate the social issues they are facing.
Moreover, the students hosted were those with passion to drive change at high school level, engage with the content that is geared towards problem solving, expand their knowledge of Africa Unite as well as Africa Unite School Club and to expand their Leadership skills. The aim is to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge so as to create change in their respective schools and communities.
Additionally, the camp exposed the learners to innovation, design thinking and how to apply action as a social change driver.
The training was facilitated and co-facilitated by a team that was active in their respective communities, who gave great insight, a combination of both expertise and lived experiences, who gracefully commanded respect and interactions from the students
One the first day, the participants were warmly welcomed by Zenani and Hlengiwe from Vuleka Trust Centre, who offered great service and assured the participants of having a great stay at the centre.
The training geared off in a showstopper of an ice breaker for driving critical thinking and emphasized the importance of participants to make effective use of listening as a skill to interpret the given instructions also provoking cognitive development.
After leaving the participants breathless with an interactive ice breaker, there was a dialogue pivoting around how we can shift our perspectives. Participants were then paired and asked to introduce themselves to the person they were paired with. They shared what they like about themselves, what they don’t like and what they believe people think of them. Following this, participants went back in the circle, where at random participants were asked to share what they know about the person being paired with.
Moreover, the learners were educated on the origins of Africa Unite and the School Club, so they could understand the work in which the organisation is focused on and the School Club program in greater detail. Following this, the learners broke into groups and worked on their problem tree, where the learners identified the hotspots they have in their schooling environment. The presidents of each clubs shared this with the rest of the learners and thereafter, day one was wrapped up.
Day two kicked started with a workout 6am in the morning for the learners to feel energised and get ready for the day. The official proceedings of the day began at 9am where the learners were showed a presentation on Good Leadership. The presentation outlined leadership characteristics and different leadership styles (democratic, autocratic, strategic etc). The learners were highly engaged during this, with the learners understanding that within their cabinet positions in the school club, they are of the same value as the cabinet members within the South African Government. When asked of what they understood about leadership after the presentation ,their responses were given as positively approaching problems, influencing others while knowing when and how to follow, considering doing things differently, and nurturing effective working relationships, contribute to a spirit of team work and cooperation and making appropriate decisions even under pressure. This activity tapped into understanding the different leadership styles; being autocratic-making decisions without consulting others. Following this, to further expand their understanding of the structure of the school club, the learners played a game called guess who. Participants were given the opportunity to read a card describing the functions of the cabinet and for the rest of them to guess which minister it is. This game allowed them to understand the structure of the cabinet, their functions and how they worked together.
Moreover, following their capacitation on their portfolios, there was a discussion held on how them as cabinet members and parliamentarians can curb the social ills they face in their schools and communities. Solution were thrown right in, from creating awareness campaigns and events to address these issues, having educational distributional materials, inviting different stage holders etc. More innovative or outside the script ideas ranged from having smoke detectors at school to alert school authorities on those who smoke on school grounds, random police raids during school for drug searches, having feeding schemes so those selling drugs to afford lunch. This was an inkling of the many innovative ideas which would help combat the social ills faced in schools and communities in KwaZulu-Natal.
In addition, to gage the knowledge the learners had acquired during a long day of training, the learners were separated into their schools and asked to present what they had learnt in the camp so far. The learners were highly innovative in their delivery, as some performed a poem and others a skit which depicted everything Africa Unite and the School Club program is dedicated to eradicating. At the end of the night, our participants from KwaDinakwakubo won the performances with an outstanding depiction of all they had learnt throughout the weekend.
On the final day, our invited guest, Brian Mhlongo from Health Systems Trust who educated our members on public health care systems. He touched on the lack of privacy in public clinics and the lack of passion from the nurses which strips one from their right and dignity. To tackle this, health systems has developed the Chronic Central Medical Dispense, which is to aid chronic patients; especially the elderly, to collect their medication at Dischem, Clicks, Churches and local councillors. This is a system that the learners are going to educate their family members and community members about through their work within the school club. Thereafter, the learners then broke into their respective schools and drafted their year plan outlining the following: identifying the problem, plan an event/activity, identify month of event/activity, delegating the minister responsible and resources.
Overall, the camp was successful, the learners were adequately capacitated and left highly educated on their roles and responsibilities of cabinet members and parliamentarians. Our leaders are now ready to tackle the social ills they have identified to be crippling their school.
Africa Unite would like to thank Vuleka Trust Centre for their warm hospitality, as well as all the schools and parents who allowed us to work with such driven and bright learners.