"Valued Citizens", an Educational Initiative in South Africa
The participation of civil society in social governance is one of the pillars of sustainable development. Applying this principle, Renault contributed in 2001 to the Valued Citizens programme set up by the South African Ministry of Education. The purpose of this initiative is to give schools a position of central importance in the education of children in disadvantaged South African communities.
The Valued Citizens Initiative has a double objective:
* raise students sense of citizenship and raise their awareness of civic values from primary school and
* involve teachers as well as all the actors of the education system (educators, parents), through learning sessions encouraging them to put democratic principles into practice in their classes.
Its principles are simple and ambitious:
* create a new civic consciousness, in order to encourage behavioural change in communities and to make the education system more efficient,
* create an educational environment that favours mutual respect and sense or responsibilities,
* prevent the rise of violence and criminality,
* offer employment opportunities as mediators for unemployed young people.
The programme, based on the development of the social conscience and critical faculties of children, is more than Human Rights Training and more than a Civic Education Course It enhances self-confidence, self-esteem and pride for the learners to be aware of their own potential, it develops a critical thinking and guide them in their experimentation of Values, Rules, Rights and Duties for them to promote a healthy civil society in South Africa.
The programme embraces directly the social pillar of the sustainable development, since it contributes to a healthy civil society by infusing values through education and initiates social crime prevention activities.
This better understanding of citizenship also has some valuable consequences on the two others pillars of sustainable development, Environment and Economy. For example this program helps fighting the development of AIDS amongst communities The decrease of AIDS will have a direct impact on the economy by lightening the burden of health cost.Valued Citizens is a very recent programme whose outcome can really be measured only in the long term. It is thus too early to give precise quantitative results. However, some research and report on the initiative, as well as the observations of educators, lead us to believe that it has a significant and positive impact on learners and educators in terms of their behaviour, attitudes and values.
As far as children are concerned, an impression of improved moral standards, a greater cooperation and a higher understanding of citizenship was reported; research shows that the majority of the learners have become more aware of the importance of putting into practice the attitudes and values conveyed by the programme. As regards the educators, the qualitative assessment was extremely successful as well.
Thus the Valued Citizens Programme appears to have the potential to be a powerful tool in community building in South Africa. The long-term effects, although not researched, show the programme to be an answer to some of the social and educational problems facing school in South Africa today.
In 2000, the Valued Citizens Initiative was a pilot project, which had proved its efficiency and valuable impact on the attitude of Grade 5 learners and educators from two Primary Schools in Soweto and Alexandra. Today the programme reaches 32.500 students and 500 educators in 335 schools in Gauteng Province and in the Free State. The programme should be extended to secondary schools in 2004.Renault is the main partner of the project and remains committed to supporting and taking part in the Valued Citizens Initiative, which is due to be extended to secondary schools in the course of 2004.
NoneNote: Responsibility for the content of Case Stories and any other public communication related to the Global Compact principles and their implementation lies with participants themselves and not with the UN Global Compact Office.