This Global Grant seeks support to train and develop a cadre of facilitators/program coordinators in peer mediation, and implement peer-to-peer conflict management/mediation programs in 15-20 schools with high incidents of bullying, harassment, intimidation, xenophobia and gender violence in the Johannesburg metro area. We believe this is an ideal first step in empowering our children and youth in creating and sustaining a safer and more tolerate learning environment for the greater and more open diversity we now see in our schools.
Globally, children are increasingly being exposed and victimized with/by violence while attending school than ever before. South Africa and Southern Africa unfortunately has not escaped this evolving tread. In fact, South African school's have been hit hard, if not devastated, by this new phenomenon of violence, bullying, xenophobia and gender-base hostilities in schools. It could easily be argued that the amount of violence which unfolds on the streets and in the greater society at large is being played-out by our children and youth in schools everyday, schools are no longer seen as a safe haven for children and learning. Researchers and the Department of Education agree that every year over 55% of children have experience some form of violence while attending school.
The Rotary Club of Parktown (Distict 9400) has come together in support and partnership of the newly established Southern African School Mediation Initiative in order to teach our children alternative conflict management skills. Our aim is to develop, implement and coordinate peer-to-peer/ peer-to-teacher and peer-to-community mediation programs initially in 15-20 schools with high incident rates of school violence, xenophobia, gender-base violence and bullying.
God willing, the preliminary training will commence this March 2016 in three local primary and high schools. We will be training 10-15 trainers to implement and facilitate peer conflict manage programs in schools.
Richard Cohen founder of School Mediation Associates (SMA: http://www.schoolmediation.com) in Watertown, Massachusetts pioneered a dynamic practical and engaging methodology of peer-to-peer conflict resolution for youth, children, teachers and communities (Students Resolving Conflict; Peer Mediation in Schools, 1995 and The School Mediation's Field Giude: Prejudiced, Sexual Harassment, large groups and other Daily Challenges, 1999) aimed to empower and encourage young people to be proactive in owning and reducing violence in their schools and communities. Since founding of SMA in 1984, Mr. Cohen has designed and implemented thousands of conflict management programs in schools, governments and businesses around the world (see short-listing: http://www.schoolmediation.com/aboutus/workedwith.html)
Mr. Cohen has agreed to be our senior trainer and program adviser as we move forward in evolving and contextualizing a culturally relevant model program, having lasting impact and befitting our geographical, gender, culture and diversity needs in unpinning and abating the violence increasingly consuming our schools. Note, we have successfully sought application and awarded a Fulbright Scholars Award for Mr. Cohen's Support.
In this regard, he has agreed to train-the-trainers and program coordinators, assist in curricula design, along with developing and implementing the program in several schools. The training will be blended with practical awareness of human rights and gender-violence awareness. The implementation of peer conflict management gives youth critical training in dealing with their situation(s) constructively, and offers a base as to how best assist other learners to resolve conflict(s) peacefully.