South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (DBE), in partnership with MIET AFRICA, UNICEF South Africa and the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), recently launched two youth empowerment initiatives in Pretoria. These two programmes—the Southern African Development Community (SADC) FutureLife-Now! Programme and the Ubuntu Youth Leaders Movement—contribute to the Department’s Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Framework and the SADC Child and Youth Agency Framework (CYAF).
Following a successful first phase (2019–23) implemented in Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, South Africa now joins the second phase of FutureLife-Now! (2023–26), which sees a scale-up of FutureLife-Now! to additional Member States in the SADC Region. For South Africa, FutureLife-Now! contributes to building the human capital of the country’s approximately 22 million young people by empowering them to be responsible, actively engaged citizens who lead responses to 21st century development challenges, specifically those related to health,
The first phase of FutureLife-Now! is drawing to an end. Phase 2, which will commence in July this year, will build on the youth agency and leadership work commenced in Phase 1. Phase 2 will introduce new and innovative interventions in the 10 schools in Zimbabwe; these will be scaled up over time to the additional 30 schools to be added to the programme. One of the new elements that aims to develop youth leadership for service among young people in our communities is the Ubuntu Youth Leaders’ Programme, run in partnership with Instituto Padre António Vieira (IPAV).
“Ubuntu is about a community coming together to help one another.” Paul Anthony Pierce (Former American professional basketball player)
Ubuntu is an African philosophy that places emphasis on being human through other people. It is succinctly reflected in the phrase “I am because of who we all are.” This perfectly fits the work that FutureLife-Now!
In Zambia, sexual and reproductive health topics are seldom discussed in family settings. Speaking openly about sexuality and sexual relationships is considered taboo in most Zambian communities. As a result, family members and teachers rarely have conversations on these topics, leading to low levels of knowledge about HIV and certain aspects of sexuality.
With this in mind, the FutureLife-Now! Programme in Zambia held a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) workshop in April 2023 at David Ramushu Secondary School. The event was attended by 37 stakeholders, ranging from teachers, parents, councillors, nurses and district officials to youth facilitators. Recognising its importance, Ntinga Remnant, the District Education Guidance Coordinator noted that “our culture considers sexual and reproductive health as a taboo and this training should equip teachers and parents with skills and knowledge to solve this conflict between CSE and tradition.”
Richard Ngoma, a teacher at David Ramushu Secondary School and the FutureLife-Now!
Three School Health and Nutrition days are scheduled annually on the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) school calendar (in 2023, these are 3 March, 19 May and 22 September). They are intended to highlight the collaboration and linkages needed between the MoET and MoH as directed by Lesotho’s School Health and Nutrition Policy of 2018, because the promotion of the health of learners in schools is a critical step towards quality achievement in education.
On 3 March, to celebrate this relationship, a School Health and Nutrition Day was conducted by the MoET, in collaboration with Ministry of Health (MoH), and with the support of the FutureLife-Now! Programme. A total of 13 high schools in the Mafeteng district participated, where the FutureLife-Now! Programme is supporting schools.
The district education manager, Mahlompho Shaabe, delivered a word of appreciation, noting that she is indeed thankful to FutureLife-Now! for the support provided.
Addressing barriers to teaching and learning needs a holistic approach and is everyone’s responsibility.
With this in mind, between January and November 2022, the FutureLife-Now! Programme in Malawi ran Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) School Community Workshops in its 10 pilot schools. These were aimed at improving education outcomes by bringing together all key stakeholders (teachers and other educators, those in management structures, parents, community leaders, health workers, child protection workers, forestry assistants, agriculture officers, police officers) to develop their knowledge, capacity and commitment to addressing barriers to teaching and learning.
Schools are now reaping the fruits of these workshops. Umbwi Secondary in Dedza is one such school. Here are some of the initiatives that are bringing benefits to all its learners, including those experiencing barriers to learning.
Health workers have commenced conducting talks on topics such as HIV&AIDS and other aspects of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR);