UNITE
Provoking critical thinking and activism in Youth
Mission
Working with high school students to build social cohesion and transformation in South African society.
Outline
UNITE explores ideas of identity, integration and diversity with youth living in South Africa. Working collaboratively from within the South African High School Education System, UNITE provides a unique extra-curricular curriculum which provokes a deep exploration of the themes of identity, integration and diversity to promote activism and critical thought in youth living in South Africa. Learners in Grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 participate in discussions, debates and workshops which encourage them to think critically about their contribution to communities and effective ways to enact change. Learners then take responsibility to engage with their school educators to identify key problem areas within their schools and discuss viable solutions.
By exploring the theme of identity, youth heighten their awareness of the self and the self within society to better understand the way personal believes shape thought and action. This promotes individual initiative and personal responsibility.
By exploring a second theme of integration, youth understand the constructs that keep different social groups separate and use this understanding to build bridges across social divides. This promotes unity and collaboration within the learner collective.
By exploring the theme of diversity, UNITE fosters acceptance of differences between people to grow social cohesion and embrace individuality. This promotes acceptance of others as well as a sense of social responsibility, encouraging learners to enact and promote positive change.
The UNITE program
UNITE functions in 4 partner schools in the Western Cape; Sea Point High School, Zonnebloem NEST Secondary School, Heideveld Secondary School, and Vista High School. Each school has a UNITE Club which is led by peer elected Inner Club Council (ICC) members. ICC members then attend themed workshops at the Scalabrini Centre in preparation to lead discussions at their schools UNITE Club. Selected senior ICC members are given the opportunity to continue within UNITE as peer mentors to provide support to newly elected leaders following a year of ICC service.
UNITE is aligned to the South African school calendar, with activity taking place between the months of January to September. In the fourth term, learners focus on their formal school examinations. In term one the UNITE workshops address and focus on the theme of identity; in term two, integration; and in term three, diversity.
UNITE runs a Club once a week at each of our partner school and weekly workshops at the Scalabrini Centre for the ICC. In addition to our weekly Club meetings and ICC workshops, UNITE runs leadership camps, holiday programs, end of term events that coincide with relevant South African holidays, and various other educational outings and events.
Objectives
  • UNITE aims to develop and improve skills in leadership and community activism, fostering attitudes and initiating actions that promote respect for all cultures within South African communities from within the learner collective.
  • The Club aims to equip learners with the tools to become conscious, prudent and engaged citizens who are able to make informed decisions, both within a personal capacity and otherwise.
  • The Club aims to engage educators in the discussion, including the formal school body and adult leaders in order to promote continuity and cohesion between the programme and the formal school curriculum. This is encouraged through educator involvement and participation in all Club meetings and events.
Events
UNITE hosts 3 events per year which are attended/supported by all relevant stakeholders of the program. We encourage teachers, parents, friends, as well as both UNITE Club and ICC members to attend. These events are performances or campaigns initiated and run by the UNITE youth. Events typically coincide with Human Rights Day in March, Youth Day and World Refugee Day in June, as well as Heritage Day in September.
UNITE hosts 2 leadership camps per year. These camps are 3-day events attended by ICC members and peer mentors. The camps have a focus on leadership as well as conversations surrounding responsibility, effective communication, the importance of academic performance as well as role modelling.
UNITE hosts 2 Holiday Programs per year, each one either 2 or 3 days long. The purpose of the Holiday Program is to keep the UNITE youth busy during their March/April and June/July holidays periods as well as introduce the UNITE youth to the curriculum and content the up and coming term will contain. We use it as an opportunity to educate our youth about different industries as well as opportunities available to them.
UNITE also aims to host 1 or 2 additional events per year. To keep within the scope of the program these events are leadership or education based. Examples of these are the 2017 events; Integrity Workshop held in April, as well as a Career Day held in August.