Diary of a Travelling Foot Soldier
Our Executive Director, Ryan Smit recently visited Gauteng for a string of strategic encounters. Here are some feedback notes from his trip that proved to be very fruitful.
Dear Friends, here’s a short update on a very exciting 4-day work visit to Gauteng (29 Mar – 3 Apr).
Friday (29 March) started with a very productive meeting with the Head of IT of Fedsas (Federation of South African School Governing Bodies). We are forging a working relationship to amplify our efforts in opposing sexual exploitation of children.
My first meeting on Monday (1 April) was with the Directorate: Child Exploitation (National Department of Social Development / NDSD), and Deputy Directorate: Child Protection (NDSD). I took them through our inputs into the NDSD’s Framework for Programmes for Exploited Children. The engagement was very positive and our contributions well received. We are encouraged by this growing relationship, based on mutual support and a common goal – the prevention of child exploitation and early intervention to address cases of exploitation.
I was also able to secure an unplanned and unscheduled meeting with the NDSD Directorate responsible for the Children’s Amendment Bill. Although the official had other commitments to attend to, we ended up spending close to an hour discussing our key points of interest in the Bill. We were able to build rapport and establish trust in our mutual bona fides.
The official provided clarity on the department’s stance on “reasonable chastisement” in the Bill and also received our submission regarding the protection of children from exposure to potentially disturbing and harmful materials and from premature exposure to adult experiences.
That this meeting happened at all, was somewhat of a miracle as the official had not been in the office for three months prior and was not sure when he would be returning to the office again, due to wide-ranging commitments on regional level. We are grateful to have been able to make the connection.
My third meeting on Monday was with the Department of Basic Education, Directorate: Health Promotion and Programmes on CSE (Comprehensive Sexuality Education), including the National Learner Pregnancy Policy. Regarding CSE, we obtained an update on the current status of the process to finalise the Life Skills and Life Orientation curricula for CSE and opportunities to engage the department in respect thereof. We similarly obtained an update on the progress and future processes in relation to finalising the Learner Pregnancy Policy and opportunities to give inputs into the policy prior to its finalisation.
Tuesday, 2 April, kicked off with a meeting with one of the leading policy advisors in South Africa – a true veteran and legend in the political arena. I was fortunate to receive valuable input in relation to current and future strategy on our current causes and focus areas. We are hopeful that this connection will solidify over time and grow to add increasing value to our work.
Tuesday afternoon was spent on Unisa campus to make progress on my Ph.D study on a constitutionally grounded model to limit the right to freedom of expression in relation to the distribution of sexually explicit material. I was also able to catch up on important work that needed attention.
Wednesday – Final stop – a meeting with strategy consultant to discuss implementation strategy for the launch of a Centre Against Sexual Exploitation for South Africa.
Looking forward to exciting developments, watch this Space
Yours in Justice, Ryan Smit.