STUDENT ACTIVISM IN THE PEACEFUL SCHOOL MODEL IS POSSIBLE

Now that new ideas on perfecting student model have been shared, students activism in this initiative is possible… Said Noangelina Debeshe, the Principal of Morifi High School during the  DPE web-based meeting with principals and teachers of schools who are partners in the peaceful school model initiative implemented in 24 secondary and high schools in the eight DPE working areas. The meeting was to address hurdles in the formation of student parliament in the peaceful school model and the resumption of school orchards.  Thirty-one teachers from twenty-two of the twenty-four project schools participated in the meeting.

Though many schools have student cabinet and engage in various peace activities , they still do not have student parliament which is a critical component of peaceful school model.   The Peace Education Researcher, Melida Kuape reminded teachers that student councils/parliaments are made up of class monitors and monitresses, clubs, organisations and movements found in the school.  On the other hand, teachers listed a number of challenges they have encountered in delivering on the model as it is.  These include; limited time for preparation of campaigns, lockdown, and some teachers who are not supportive of the initiative discouraging students from participation.

Mosala Mokutlulu, Peace Education Researcher advised schools to simply request students’ organizations to nominate their representatives, two from each organization, he and she, each class to nominate he and she and then submit those names to the election body by the end of Election Day. 

Ms Noangelina Debeshe accepted this guide as very helpful while Mr Nthoba Peshoane from Senekane High School admitted that they have perceived the Students Council as complicated, yet it is a very simple exercise.   Other teachers accepted this as adequate for them to resuscitate Students’ Councils. The aim of Peaceful School Model initiative is to encourage development of confidence in students through the creation of a student elected school government, dialogue based resolution of conflicts including those that have in the past led to students’ strikes, students’ debates on issues in the school and community and some national issues, the creation of mature and confident student leaders who can engage school administration and teachers in the classroom in ways that encourage dialogue, discussion and other positive forms of engagement rather the negative forms of behaviour such as strikes and violence. 

Schools agreed to express interests to start or improve on their orchards in camera. This expression may only come after Minister responsible for environment in the Student Cabinet would have presented a motion to Student Council and got approval that  students may plan trees. The idea is to plant the trees during COVID-19 as a way through which students express their commitment to protecting lives against COVID-19  by ensuring survival of trees.  This laso communicates their hope that this pandemic shall be defeated.

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