Impact report shows Vodacom-led programme is having a signific

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Director of External Affairs in Vodacom South Africa

Vodacom has set up a monitoring and evaluation function to measure the impact of our socio-economic development investments on society.  A recent impact assessment report of the Foundation demonstrates that the psychosocial programme launched in 2021 in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), is making serious strides in reducing incidents of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and bullying in schools. Violence and bullying in schools are a serious problem. The United Nations recently reported that an estimated 246 million children are subject to school violence each year, many of which are classified as instances of bullying. In South Africa, the number of deaths and violent attacks in schools  is rising significantly. Over the past two years this initiative has addressed the chronic lack of psychosocial support in schools. The report shows that this is having a direct positive impact on learners and their academic performance, interpersonal relationships, and overall mental wellbeing.

The results of this report are highly encouraging. GBV is an extremely complex problem which needs an equally complex ecosystem-based remedy. The reduction in bullying and instances of GBV in schools reported here suggest we are on the right track. While we will continue to pursue our vision of further reducing these societal ills, what has been achieved thus far has reached so much further, bringing positive change to the learners, teachers, and community. Although we still have a long way to go, hearing the individual impact stories from children across the country has only fueled our desire to continue to push this campaign forward.

The programme forms part of Vodacom’s larger Change the World initiative with a particular focus on the role childhood bullying has on the perpetuation of GBV, poor academic performance, and overall mental wellbeing. To combat this problem, Vodacom Foundation placed psychosocial professionals in schools across six provinces to provide learners, educators, and their families with support. 

- Advertisement -

By enlisting psychosocial professionals and deploying them in schools in all provinces and in the two years since its inception, we have reached over 26 000 learners across 42 schools. In addition to this, 412 families have been visited, helping to address family dynamics and gain cohesion between community stakeholders. 

The effects of bullying were pronounced in many of the schools, with learners claiming the bullying they experienced pushed them to consider suicide. However, since the introduction of the programme and its numerous anti-bullying campaigns, many have noted significant improvements, including one Free State learner. Some schools reported that bullying decreased in just 6 months due to this intervention. 

Substance abuse is another of the social challenges faced by the schools, especially those in the Western Cape. Although not originally a focus, several schools reported that self-awareness campaigns helped learners to reduce their use of substances significantly, with one school in the Northern Cape claiming to have reduced their substance abuse habits among its learners by 65%. Much of this success stemmed from confidence and relationship building, especially among families. Aided by the volunteers, many learners were able to heal family relationships and grow confidence in their own abilities, developing interpersonal skills and significantly improving their performance in the classroom. 

“We couldn’t concentrate because of family issues, the programme has helped to free our minds, we are now able to concentrate, and through Vodacom, we now have a sense of belonging,” says a KZN learner. Another learner from Limpopo claims, “before the programme, I had low self-esteem, I can now do public speaking.”

However, the impact has not been limited to inside the bounds of school. Beyond repairing family relationships, helping learners to improve their ability to focus on school, the programme has also had an impact on the wider community. During interviews, many community members acknowledged the role social challenges faced in the community became challenges faced in schools. Through this initiative, Vodacom Foundation was able to aid in mobilising community-based organisations by ensuring coordination and cohesion among stakeholders. Communities have also expressed hope that with more visibility, the campaign can play a greater role in addressing the social ills in the communities. 

- Advertisement -

Among those social ills is the issue of sexual assault. Although there is still much that needs to be done to address sexual assault, especially in the context of GBV, there was some success in terms of making reporting incidents easier. In Gauteng, at least 15 cases were successfully referred to a Thuthuzela care centre with at least one perpetrator successfully arrested.

We are extremely proud of the success that we have seen so far. Creating a safe space in which children have the ability to learn is critical for the success of our country. Beyond that, ending violence and GBV in our schools is key to stopping the cycle of violence. While we still have work to do in addressing other societal challenges which impact school age children, such as teenage pregnancy and child headed households, we are pleased to have begun the process of changing the lives of those in the communities we serve.

Impact report shows Vodacom-led programme is having a signific

World News,Next Big Thing in Public Knowledg

- Advertisement -

#Impact #report #shows #Vodacomled #programme #signific
Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *