Cape Town – 100 Schools Doing 1 Thing On 1 Day offered schools the opportunity to participate by being one of over 100 schools across South Africa to engage with the documentary Where Do I Stand?. The campaign was a partnership between the Cape Town based NGO Shikaya*, UNHCR, and filmmaker Molly Blank.
115 schools participated in the 100 Schools campaign, which reached approximately 20,000 learners. The schools, which were sent free copies of the film, are from across the country and represent the various schools in the education system. At some schools, like Reddam Constantia and I.D. Mkhize in Cape Town and Epworth Independent High School in Pietermaritzburg, individual teachers showed the film to their classes. In other schools, like St. Stithians Boys College in Johannesburg, Simon’s Town High School outside Cape Town and Hohle Intermediate School in Botshabelo, Free State, the entire school gathered to view the film. For other school’s, like St. Joseph’s Marist College in Cape Town, the screening was the start of a weeklong academic and volunteer program around refugees and human rights.
The Shikaya staff attended almost ten screenings and director Molly Blank spoke with students at four schools around Cape Town.
There has been an incredible outpouring of feedback from principals and teachers who participated in the campaign. Below are just some of the comments shared by principals and teachers:
“What an incredible DVD, and what a powerful message! … Every single pupil was engrossed, and what made it even more powerful was the fact that they could recognise the sights and sounds of their own city and see that it is taking place on their doorstep. The screening of the DVD brought home the horror of xenophobia, and yet had a message of hope for our youth.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this campaign, and needless to say, it will not end here. Today’s activities will include debates on moral issues such as the influx of immigrants and xenophobic attacks. These activities aim to challenge each child to think critically about his/her own thoughts, values and prejudices. For the remainder of the week, each high school pupil will be involved in making food, sleeping bags and other items for displaced people, as well as being involved directly in community projects. Thank you for giving these activities the kickstart and dose of reality that was required.”
Justin Skea, Headmaster, St. Joseph’s Marist College, Cape Town
“I have shown [the film] to a number of my classes and it’s been a very sobering and eye-opening experience for many of them. Most of our girls do live in this sheltered bubble and it’s very important that they are aware of what other youths their age experience in this country. The Rwandan boy really touched my heart and no matter how many times I have watched this documentary, I still am moved by his story and his determination to make a success of his life. Thank you for sharing it with us.”
Brenda Sara, St. John’s DSG, Scottsville, KwaZulu Natal
“We managed to get 192 learners… They were very much energetic and enthusiastic. The debates were very much robust…. We also personally invited Pakistani citizens who are residing around Moletsane and they promised to attend but they did not show up. At the end of the show we’ve got 3 girls (Mathapelo Mmusi 17yrs, Omphemetse Sebogodi 17yrs & Matshidiso Mokhethi 18yrs) who felt that they want to start NGO that will make sure that there’s a decent creche for foreign young children in Soweto. This NGO must also rehabilitate, support and also make sure that foreigners especially woman get health resources like medication for HIV and pregnant woman including infected and affected men. The audience also agreed that we need to develop awareness campaigns about the plight of foreigners by starting workshops that deal with different topics /events that affect them. We gave ourselves a time frame of 3 months to deal with paper work and get different organisations that will work with us… Once more thank you very much for the assistance. I salute you for the work and sacrifice and the dream you carry day in, day out for our nation.
Elliot Mashinini, Principal, Moletsane Secondary School, Soweto
“Learners have gained insight and understanding- many confessed to simply ignoring the issues of 2008- not reading the newspapers and changing channels (TV) when it came on the news. One grade 9 learner said she never knew about xenophobia or the attacks and I could see she was moved when she simply said ‘but now I do.’ I found that the Zimbabwean learners in the class felt the need to justify why they were in the country [I never expected such a response]; none of them spoke about their experiences in 2008. One learner was so moved that he watched the film in his history lesson, came after school to watch it during society hour and the next day he asked if he could borrow the dvd to show his mom because he’d been telling her about it.”
Bonita Belelie, The Settlers High School, Bellville, Western Cape
“This was a great initiative. It sparked intense discussion and was an intense and emotional learning experience. The students were totally engrossed in the material, all shared a sense of wanting to do something to prevent future crises and to help refugees. [I participated because] I wanted to advance the consciousness of my students. I want them to understand the complexities related to identities. I want them to connect with issues in the country even if they are not directly impacted, to think more about human rights issues, in this instance relating to refugees, to be aware of government policy relating to refugees and to debate the validity of the policy as well as evaluate whether it has been implemented effectively. My students were spellbound. They realized that the crisis is on their doorsteps. They were made aware of the vulnerability of all foreigners, the mindlessness of the masses, they were concerned that the police did not enough to create security, they were extremely concerned that it will happen again.
Merle Stoltz, Reddam Constantia, Western Cape
“The goal of screening with the objective of raising awareness about xenophobia and the potential that youth have in causing change was achieved just by the impact of the words, thoughts and experiences of the living characters in the documentary.”
V Govindsamy, Buffelsdale Secondary School, Buffelsdale, KwaZulu Natal
* Shikaya is a non-profit civil society organization that supports the personal and professional development of teachers to create a South Africa in which young people in schools are inspired and supported to become responsible citizens and future leaders in our democracy, valuing diversity, human rights and peace. Since 2005, Shikaya has been working with over 3 000 teachers across South Africa and reached over 45,000 students through their programmes.
For more information on the 100 Schools campaign, contact:
Director, Where Do I Stand?
Tel: 021 671 7200
Mobile: 076 288 0279