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'Heartlines' brings values to classrooms

by Gabi Khumalo
on 17 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Life Orientation lessons in classrooms have been given a 'heartline' to help learners and teachers to debate and integrate values in their daily lives, writes Gabi Khumalo.

Heartlines, a mass media project aimed at promoting values in South Africa has launched an interactive free Educator's Guide to support Life Orientation teaching in schools.

The project aims to get to the heart of matters including HIV and AIDS, crime, violence and the breakdown of family and social structures.

The guide consists of eight modules, each focusing on one of the eight Heartlines movies.

The movies include values such as acceptance, responsibility, forgiveness, perseverance, self-control, honesty and compassion.

These movies have been edited down to 17 minutes and compiled onto one DVD which comes with a book. Four modules are for Grade 10 and four are for Grade 11.

The project was initiated by Dr Garith Japhet, founder of Soul City, which was launched in 2006.

Speaking to BuaNews on Tuesday, Project Manager for schools at Heartlines, Jennifer Charlton, said the eight films were always intended to be used as an edutainment tool in an effort to get children talking about values and how they could integrate them in their daily lives.

"We felt that one could learn lessons from Soul City to promote health and values messages," said Charlton adding that the guide was proving to be extremely useful to teachers.

She said the modules engaged children in classrooms.

It is about leading them to have an opinion and to surface issues they would not normally talk about, she said.

The project, Ms Charlton said, was also to encourage pupils to be creative and think more broadly about values and how to implement them in their daily lives in an effort to contribute to nation building and social cohesion.

They are currently busy with phase two of the project which would be reworked and be used in lower classrooms.

Ms Charlton encouraged teachers who have not yet received their free material to contact their district co-ordinator.

Following nationwide training, the project distributed almost 40 000 Educator's Guides via provincial and district education offices for high schools countrywide.

Through the heartlines project, high school pupils across South Africa are now talking and debating values.

It is funded by FNB and the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) and endorsed by the Department of Education.

Sizwe Secondary School teacher in Elandsfontein, Pule Mlamla, told BuaNews that since the project was implemented by the school this year, pupils are very enthusiastic and willing to share opinions on various issues including among others acceptance, stereotype and human rights.

"The introduction of the heartlines modules has seen Life Orientation become one of the favourite subjects at school, instead of spending 45 minutes, we end up spending more than an hour as more issues come up.

"Pupils are so enthusiastic and willing to talk about issues which have an effect on their lives. The modules are developed in such a way that we are untapping the potential of these youngsters," said Ms Mlamla.

She said pupils first watched the video on a certain issue and discussed it later.

This includes issues and values related to HIV and AIDS, abstinence, prejudice, parenting, poverty, rehabilitation of criminals, corruption, forgiveness and reconciliation, human and constitutional rights.

"Everytime we have discussions I'm always amazed by the level of knowledge as they discuss and debate the issues, they learn to think outside the box and the more we engage in discussion, it becomes funnier as they realize that we have the same experiences and are affected by the same issues, whether we are young or old," said Ms Mlamla who is also the Head of Department in Life Orientation.

Ms Mlamla said she believed that by introducing values-based education such as this, children are getting an opportunity to become responsible and rounded adults who have opinions and are willing to share them.

"One day we were discussing the issue of black on black, pupils were so vocal, they feel that racist does not only exists between blacks and whites but black on black, one pupil said some families still undermine other traditions and believe that a Xhosa should marry another Xhosa.

"HIV and AIDS is among the most discussed issues, one question posed on them was on whether they can leave jobs or school to take care of a family member who is HIV positive, some said they would but some said they would not, giving various reasons," explained Ms Mlamla.

She said during the first term, the project covers the issue of identified value which focuses on personal development.

"They first introduce themselves like who they are and their family background and as they do that, they touch on values," she said. - BuaNews


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