WATCH | Boys are boys, but ‘men must be men’
Schoolboys are being trained to respect women at camps run by the army.
This emerged at an attentive gathering of 500 men called together by the provincial education department to talk about male violence against women.
The department’s superintendent general, Themba Kojana, said that in response to the gender-based violence crisis, more boys would be sent to the camp at Komani to be taught, through action, “moral principles” and general life discipline.
Every June holiday, 120 youths go to the camp.
Kojana was addressing the men’s conference at the Abbottsford Christian Centre on Wednesday.
Despite years of anti-conscription campaigning in SA during apartheid, Kojana called for a return of the system of compelling youths to undergo compulsory life skills training.
“We need to change our perceptions about conscription within the democratic government. Boy scouts and girl guides are important to teach kids discipline.”
He said of the camps: “There are boys who were bullies, but after two weeks they were able to understand the law, and they changed and knew when to talk and when not to talk. They decided to follow the law, it means there is something that they learnt at the army base.
“That has the ability to change the children’s behaviour completely.”
Sonke Gender Justice provincial chair Patrick Godana said gender-based violence had robbed many families of their loved ones.
“Absent fathers in the lives of children is the main challenge. Some are there financially, but are emotionally disconnected. Woman die in SA at the hands of their partners. No one is born violent – violence is a learned behaviour.”
While he spoke against alcohol, a departmental employee was seen intoxicated, vomiting and was lifted in his chair and carried out of the venue by three men.
Godana carried on: “Alcohol is fashionable in our society. Men must stop drinking and driving.”
He said the department should also hold teachers who were implicated in sexual relationships with pupils accountable.
In an interview with the Dispatch, Kojani said 10 pupils per district were taken to the army base during school holidays.
He said the meeting of men was hosted because of the spike in gender-based violence in the country.
The event, themed “Our Strength Is Not for Hurting”, was attended by men from the Eastern Cape House of Traditional leaders, South African Council of Churches, cultural organisation Inkolo Kantu, Sonke Gender Justice, the Association of Traditional Surgeons, gender-based violence activists from across the province, the Association of School Governing Bodies and labour unions. Kojana said: “We sin by actions and thinking, and also by keeping quiet and not taking action. That is why I said we should convene such a gathering and I am happy that we honoured this important conversation.”
Inkolo Kantu historian and cultural activist Loyiso Nqevu said: “An uncultured man is like a house without a foundation. We cannot allow men to do as they like. Some men have stooped so low that they sleep with children who do not even know the meaning of life.”
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