Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation hosted the 1st Biennial Conference of the Thari Programme in partnership with the National Department of Basic Education and Free State Department of Education in Bloemfontein, Free State on 6 September. The conference was aimed at addressing the prevalence of violence, abuse and other social ills children as well as women experience in our school communities. These impact on the well-being of learners and on their learning outcomes.

Thari is a Tswana language term for the blanket that is used to cover and carry a child. It also refers to the lining that protects a baby while it is in its mother’s womb.

The programme is being piloted at select schools in Botshabelo, Free State and Diepsloot, Gauteng, and aims to provide safe school community environments that are free from violence, academically effective, inclusive and gender-sensitive and that promote health and well-being for all. The programme rests on three pillars: psychosocial support for women and children; Safe Parks for vulnerable children, youth and women; and multi-sectoral community forums.

Discussion at the conference focused on the social challenges that women and children in South Africa face; psychosocial support services for learners; the role of childcare and youth support workers; and the growth of Thari and the learnings that it offers.

The keynote speaker was Adv. T.H Malakoane, Head of Department of the Free State Department of Education.

Among key outcomes of the conference, collaboration was upheld as central, with a stakeholder task team to be established to develop and implement a “clear” action plan; the need to focus on after-school care programmes was highlighted; and services for the protection of the boy child was stressed.

The Department of Basic Education’s Chief Director for Social Inclusion and Partnerships in Education, Patricia Watson, said patriarchy leaves little space for boys to talk about being victims of sexual abuse, which can perpetuate violence in society. This has led to a decline in the performance of male learners as a result.

Click here for the Thari conference booklet.

Tune in to Lesedi FM here for CEO Mmabatho Maboya on the Thari conference. 

Click here for Mmabatho Maboya’s interview with OFM.