Various education stakeholders, from all nine provinces, converged at the DBE Conference Centre in Pretoria to engage on supporting Representative Council of Learners (RCLs) in realising Child and Youth Agency within the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Framework. The engagement was part of a three-day CSTL Workshop facilitated by the DBE from 14 - 16 September 2022. The RCL structure is regarded as a critical wing of the basic education sector as it is the only statutory learner representative body, which is expected to play a crucial role in promoting quality learning and teaching in schools.
The CSTL Programme is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative, which came into effect in 2008 to ensure the realisation of the right to education of vulnerable learners. The Workshop provided a concrete foundation for the basic education sector in rethinking learner leadership formation such as Peer Education, Girls and Boys Education Movement (GEM/BEM) and other learner formations, focusing on the child participatory role of RCLs in schools. The RCL structures provide a rich opportunity for the promotion of Child and Youth Agency in improving the effective functionality of schools in South Africa. As part of enriching RCLs and improving the schooling machinery, participants comprising representatives of Social Cohesion and Equity in Education (SCEE), Education Management and Governance Development (EMGD), as well as the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC), agreed on an approach of providing RCLs with necessary leadership skills and content to excel in strengthening learner leadership and peer education interventions in schools.
Director for Social Cohesion and Equity, Mr Likho Bottoman, stated that the Child and Youth Agency Framework of SADC was designed to ensure children and young people are at the forefront in turning schools into centres of excellence and so the DBE intends to make use of the RCL avenue to realise this vision. He further highlighted that, despite the Sector’s dedication towards maintaining discipline in schools, behavioural challenges amongst young people were compromising effective learning and teaching. “Through this Workshop, we intend to empower schools to involve learners in the decision-making processes to formulate strategies that respond directly to various challenges encountered by the youth.”
The Director of EMGD, Mr James Ndlebe, added that school management and leadership are critical pillars to keep schools focused and goal-oriented. “The type of candidates considered for the RCLs should be determined to improve school functionality where they serve.”
The Workshop drew inputs from various representatives including the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Ngangezwe Foundation, Amnesty International South Africa, Agape Youth Movement (AYM), Youth African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Trevor Noah Foundation and Media in Education Trust (MIET) Africa.