World Vision in Okhahlamba in KwaZulu-Natal has partnered with other like-minded organisations to restore children affected by socio-economic hardships and prepare them to be responsible and successful adults. Started in 2010, the Value Based Life Skills programme is producing results.
Initially formed as a school-based empowerment initiative, the programme has evolved to include church and community-based activities, psycho-social support, training and materials development at provincial level, and an advocacy initiative to influence policy and the implementation of Guidance and Counselling in schools.
For Zamokuhle, 16, the programme has helped him get excited about life and deal with challenges he faces at home head-on. “I don’t think I’d still be alive if VBLS was not introduced to me. Last year, there was so much going on at home as a result of my parent’s divorce. I survived all that because I was already empowered with coping measures for stressful situations,” he explains.
Over 80% of primary and secondary schools reached by VBLS report an increased volume in moral regeneration. Positive behaviour change among students includes increased abstinence from sex (three months of incidence of sex fell from 24% to 7% over a four-year period, pregnancy related dropout in schools reduced by 60%), and a reduced incidence of drug abuse in schools reached by the programme.
“VBLS targets the all-round development of a person. We’ve been taught about discipline, manners self-control, politeness, strength, and my favourite topic was on ‘self-love and care’, says 17-year-old Grade 10 learner, Inathi, who adds that he views speaking the truth and not stealing as key towards becoming a good citizen.
“Young people need value based abilities to cope with life’s challenges. And we believe that if the young people are empowered with life skills, they are able to make the right choices through situational analysis, critical thinking and making informed decisions, thereby avoiding risky behaviour and reduce their vulnerability,” says World Vision’s Zanele Mchunu.