The anxiety of losing young people to a life of drugs and crime prompted educare centre principals to hold an information and sharing session in Gugulethu last Tuesday, October 10.
According the hosts, Reenbog Early Childhood/Community Development Service Provider, in conjunction with South African Congress for Early Childhood Development, township educare centres and their children are faced with gangsterism, poverty, bullying, drug abuse and many other psycho-social issues inside and outside of schools, which most teachers are not trained to deal with.
Freda Andjene of Reenbog Early Childhood said the crime concern had led to her consulting with education stakeholders about the challenges they all face.
She said they aim to pave the way in reporting social ills affecting their sectors and communities to transform society.
The meeting at the Gugulethu library was also attended by the South African Police Service, Rise Against Hunger, the Department of Social Development and the community police forum.
Ms Andjene pleaded with the stakeholders to take care of children for the sake of their future. She defended those who are on the streets and said the cause was hunger and other social ills.
“We are influencers. We are builders. As overseers of the ECDs, we need to do something about the crimes that are happening in Gugulethu and everywhere else. We as ECD pillars, we are mentors. Now we are coming together to try to overcome what our children are facing. You know we used to say it takes a village to build a child, this is the legacy we have to leave for these children.”
She said the crimes such as hijackings, extortion and rape are affecting the ECD children too. It was difficult for many of them to attend the educares and grow up in a hostile environment where they may end up being nothing but criminals.
“We need to preach the gospel of safety to our children, whether in Gugulethu, Mitchell’s Plain or elsewhere. Another question that we need to ask ourselves is, what legacy are we going to leave for them? We have to stand up for them so they grow up in a good environment. That is the reason we have put all the stakeholders under one roof to deliberate and have a plan going forward,” she said.
Social worker Badikazi Bangani said there should be ways to create safe and supportive learning environments for children.
She painted a bleak future for the children of Gugulethu, especially with the high rate of drug abuse. “Gugulethu has been the centre of violence lately. Unfortunately this is the behaviour that is modelled for the children. The rehabilitation centres are full with Gugulethu young people. We place them as far as George, Worcester and the Eastern Cape. This is how bad the situation is,” she said.
However, she praised the Rebuilding and Life Skills Training Centre Organisation for working with them and youth of the area in trying to help them find their feet.
SA Congress chairperson Karrima Jacobs was happy about the gathering.
She said as an organisation they fight for the children’s rights nationally. “We want to see assets for our country. We are trying to get the government to understand the importance of the foundation. We are struggling but we want the best for our children,” she said, urging everyone to support the educare centres.
She said everyone has a bigger role to make sure that every child lives a life free of crime.
The gathering agreed to have another session soon where they will have a plan going forward.