Over 40 Parents responded to an invitation to a briefing session at the Austerville Baptist Church. They were invited to hear about the Restorative Justice project that their children were selected to participate in. Twenty five learners were selected by their fellow peers to be mediators in conflict situations within their school. This was part of a Restorative Justice programme being run by the South Durban Basin Area Based Management Office of EThekwini Municipality in partnership with NICRO KZN.
Restorative Justice is a means of dealing with conflict situations in a way that puts emphasis on repairing harm caused by conflict and crime. It looks at utilizing alternative methods of dealing with conflict and wrongdoing. The aim of this project is to introduce a culture of restorative justice in schools. Parents were informed by Darian Smith from NICRO about the role their children (the mediators) would play in the programme. The first phase of the programme will entail workshops with the learners on Life Skills, where they will be assisted to clarify their own values and taught how to enhance social and moral development in their peers as well as how to promote positive behaviour.
The second phase of the programme involves the children being taken away on a Wilderness “Journey” camp. Here the young people will be subjected to 2 mentally gruelling days where they will emerge as victors from their past experiences and challenges in life. They will have a clear understanding of who they are and what their purpose in school environment would be. Eurakha Singh, SDB ABM Social Development Manager, said “this project is aimed at creating a better understanding amongst youth around conflict situations, encouraging accountability and socially responsible behavior with a view to reducing bullying; expulsions and suspensions; school drop- out rates; criminal activities within the school. Singh further went to say that the ultimate aim of the project is to reduce violence at community level.
Sonia Solomon, Area Manager NICRO expressed her gratitude for the support and partnership offered by eThekwini Municipality, and the SDB in particular. She committed to ensuring that the 25 young learners selected for this programme emerge with advanced skills that would equip them to make a difference in their schools and their communities at large. Parents present gave their blessing to the project and expressed pride that their children were entrusted with the responsibility of making a difference in their communities.