Soweto Primary School Project

Background

The anti-substance abuse curriculum development for pre-primary school children in Soweto, South Africa (anti-substance abuse project) – a jointly implemented project by SANCA, ORT South Africa and World ORT Trust – is being implemented over a period of three years starting January 2001.

The project was borne out of a need expressed by SANCA and ORT SA to World ORT Trust to address the growing concerns and issues related to substance abuse among poor communities in South Africa. Soweto was chosen as the project area because SANCA is already operational in the area, and therefore already a clear understanding of the needs of the community in terms of substance abuse issues, and as well as having many pre-existing links and contacts within the community.

Soweto-Primary-School

Main Goal

To alleviate levels of substance abuse in the project area by confronting and breaking the links between poverty, unemployment and substance abuse.

Main objectives:

  1. Curriculum:
    • To encourage children early on in their lives to value themselves and their bodies and to increase their self-esteem and potential through developing a pre-school anti-drugs curriculum.
  2. Teacher training:
    • To enhance pre-school teachers’ capacities, specifically in order to implement the new substance abuse curriculum in their schools, and to train their colleagues in new knowledge and the new curriculum.
  3. Employability skills:
    • To enable adults in the community to find employment or new employment in areas of work they were previously unable to access.
  4. Drugs and empowerment workshop:
    • To enable communities to act against substance abuse and related issues by empowering them through increasing communities’ knowledge, access to information, and by increasing the advocacy capacity of local community organisations, and to enable community organisations to hold their own “mini-workshops”.
  5. Running a pilot project:
    • To create a sound working model of a community-focused anti-drugs project that can be repeated elsewhere.

This three-year pilot project simultaneously targets very young children while at the same time addressing poverty, unemployment and community issues relating to substance abuse on a family and community level.

Foundation stage children are targeted by training teachers to implement a substance abuse focused life skills curriculum as part of their every day lessons.

Families are targeted by providing employability skills training to family members and by getting them involved in what the children are learning.

Communities are targeted by running substance abuse information and advocacy workshops at the SANCA Soweto clinic and by helping advocates run awareness raising sessions in strategic locations in Soweto.

Impact

The project still has another year to run, but in the two years that it has been in operation the following outputs and impacts have been measured:

  • 80 teachers from at least 40 Soweto pre-primary schools trained to implement a substance abuse focused life skills curriculum
  • At least 15 teacher trainers from local educational NGOs who are now able to train and monitor teachers in the new curriculum
  • Hundreds of children who have been taught the curriculum over the last 2 years who are now demonstrating that the curriculum is having an direct positive impact on their development
  • Increased interest from parents wanting to know more about, or become more involved in, addressing issues relating to substance abuse in their community
  • 5 community educational resource centres with significantly more materials linked to substance abuse issues
  • Approximately 100 unemployed or under-employed individuals from Soweto who have children in participating schools with increased self-esteem and employment skills. We estimate that at least 75% of these now have work or have chosen a career or study path.
  • At least 30 community advocates trained by SANCA who organise awareness raising sessions in their community
  • Increased attendance and referral to the SANCA clinic as a direct result of awareness raising in the community
  • Thousands of community members who are now aware of some of the issues linked to substance abuse in their community, existing support organisations and structures and how they can take action against substance abuse in their communities
  • Positive synergies and new initiatives have been intitiated, which are a direct result of collaboration on this project, such as the establishment of ‘safe’ waiting rooms at police stations in Soweto for children who have been abused; the introduction of ‘HIV/AIDS and abuse against women’ workshops in employability training courses and the creation of a ‘special needs’ foundation stage school in Soweto.

This project started in January 2000 and will finish end 2003. It was jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and the European Commission.