By Staff Reporter
The East Bank High School in Alexandra, east of Johannesburg is considered a high-risk school ravaged by rampant substance abuse, teenage , gambling, bullying, and gangsterism.
In an effort to intervene in these social ills, with drugs and substance abuse deemed a route cause, the Gauteng department of Social Development in partnership with its sister department of Education, the African Youth Development Fund (AYDF) and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) in the area embarked on “Ke Moja Fridays”.
That was a preventative educational programme that sought to address the scourge of substance abuse in schools and targets communities such as LGBTQIA+, artists and musicians, and tavern owners.
Ke Moja, which means ‘I am fine without drugs’ is a brand name for the government of South Africa geared towards drug and substance abuse preventi-n.
The programme is implemented in nine (9) provinces in partnership with the NPO sector, who are contracted to appoint coaches that implement the programme at identified high-risk schools.
Speaking to learners and parents in attendance last Friday, Gauteng Department of Social Development, Chief Director for Social Welfare and Specialist Services, Tebello Mkhonto said the objective of the campaign was to sustain a drug free environment in which learners and the youth would enjoy their freedom, develop intellectually, socially, economically, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
“We want to help children and the youth to avoid initiation into the use of drugs. Or, if they have started already, to avoid developing disorders such as dependence.
“Ke Moja Fridays focuses on using a variety of activities as tools to educate, empower and develop awareness of the harmful effects of substance abuse in an integrated approach, to different populations, amongst others – the learners, university students, and the youth,” said Mkhonto.
Speaking to a Weekly Bulletin, social worker in Joburg metro region, Shireen Hassan added that the Department would continue with such efforts to ensure that children do not experiment with drugs and substances.
“The team has been working very hard to ensure that we have such outreach programmes. The school is at risk and situated in a community that is rife with substance abuse, poverty, and unemployment.
“We want our learners to benefit from this and take the messages home regarding the dangers of substance abuse. We also want to create an environment where children feel free to speak to us and our stakeholders such as SANCA Alex,” said Hassan.
A highlight to many of the learners on the day was seeing their hero, Xolani Khumalo from a popular television show called Sizokuthola on Moja Love channel 157.
Like many of the speakers, celebrity guest Khumalo wished the learners well as they start final year school examinations and echoed that the fight against drugs and substance abuse was aimed at benefitting their future.
In numbers, between April 2023 and September 2023, the Ke Moja programme has reached 142 256 beneficiaries through substance abuse prevention and awareness.