On the 9th September 2022, the Foundation hosted a successful Thari Second Biennial conference at Seemahale Secondary School. Seemahale Secondary School is one of the eight participating schools in Botshabelo. The conference was hosted in partnership with the Free State Department of Basic Education and directed by Mr Moloi, Motheo District Director. The theme of the conference focised on the “The impact of a multi-sectoral approach towards the protection of women and children against violence in our schools and communities. Findings from the Thari programme in Botshabelo township, Free State”.
The conference was attended by over 200 stakeholders from Government departments, schools, Unions, Community Councillors, and Non-Government Organisations. The theme was discussed and supported by presentations from the experts in the Care and Support field to position Thari Programme as a viable model to address social challenges that affect teaching and learning at schools:
The presentations were provided as follows:
- Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, Chief Executive Office, Mmabatho Maboya provided an overview of the Thari Programme, the purpose of the conference and a brief reflection on the Thari first Biennial Conference; this was followed by a video on Thari Programme
- Prof Roelf Reyneke, a Programme Director for the Department of Social Work at the University of Free State, presented on the Thari Programme, learnings, findings, challenges, and growth opportunities based on the research project.
- Celeste Matross, the Country Director for Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), presented local and global challenges on child protection in schools and Government priorities to care and support programmes.
- Ruta Moses, a delegate from the Inclusive Education, Free State Department of Education, presented the current status of psychosocial support in the province.
- Dr PHI Makgoe, MEC: Free State Education, provided the keynote address and presented on collaboration and strengthening partnerships beyond the pilot period.
The presentations were concluded by a panel discussion led by Dululu Hlatshaneni, the Deputy Director for Social Cohesion and Equity in Education as a moderator. Panellists included Professor Roelf Reyneke, Celeste Matross, Ruta Moses and Bernice Maponyane, the Programme Manager for Thari Programme. The need to share expertise and resources was reflected as an overarching finding.
The outcomes of the conference were that:
- Psychosocial Support Services have proven to be a critical intervention to address social challenges experienced by learners and achieve their academic outcomes.
- The Free State Department of Basic Education pledged support for the Thari Programme beyond the pilot period.
- The Free State Department of Basic Education pledged to support a Social Worker in each circuit to oversee Psychosocial Support Services at schools. This would show the Thari Programme’s influence on Care and Support at schools, and services would be strengthened.