The Importance of Promoting Human Rights to Young People...
Basic nutrition and health care, shelter, and social services are some of the basic rights of children, enshrined in the South African Constitution (Section 28, Bill of Rights)...but how many young South Africans are actually aware of their rights?
OneVoice South Africa (OVSA), a non-governmental organisation which actively involves young people in HIV and AIDS prevention, has a dedicated Schools Programme that addresses issues around HIV and AIDS, life skills, sexual reproductive health, gender and human rights. Unfortunately, history has shown that young people are often ignored as the main role players in their own lives – including being adequately informed about the ‘rights’ they are entitled to.
The OVSA Schools Programme engages learners in ways which increase their knowledge and skills of situations and/or actions that might place their lives at risk. The programme consists of a series of nine workshops that focus on building life skills and addressing sexual reproductive health, gender and human rights issues, as well as mobilising young people to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS in South Africa.
The first workshop places a strong emphasis on values and human rights. From the outset, young people are asked to explore their own ’values’ and are then taken through to what human rights are. The main aim of this workshop is to help learners explore their own values and how these values relate to human rights. Learners are also familiarised with Section 28 of the Bill of Rights, which addresses Children’s Rights, and are encouraged to engage around the topic in this safe environment. At the end of the workshop, learners understand that rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities. “We all need to be involved in making sure that others are aware of our rights, but equally, that we behave responsibly when executing those rights,” said Mbuso Mtembu, OVSA Facilitator, KwaZulu-Natal.
Ultimately, the Schools Programme hopes to enable learners to develop positive voices in response to the critical issues affecting their lives. Learners involved in the OVSA Schools Programme are provided with a safe platform to engage in activities, express their personal views, and to reflect on discussions held. Support materials include activities that are linked to the outcomes of the Department of Education’s National Life Orientation (LO) syllabus, and could form a key part of learner assessment in school. Developed by educational experts, the Schools Programme is aligned to the HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa (NSP 2007-2011), and the LO syllabus. The workshops have also been developed to address issues around South African HIV epidemic drivers.
If you are interested in learning more about the great work that is being done with young South Africans or, if you would like to support the OVSA Schools Programme, please visit the OVSA website at www.onevoice.org.za or call for more information on +27 (0)31 202 0555.
OVSA is funded by: USAID/Johns Hopkins University Project South Africa; ICCO and Oxfam International.
Author: Ravind Sewpersad
Final Editing: Marlijn van Berne