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Getting hopes and concerns from 151 adolescents at one go

The Rights of the Child and Indigenous Peoples’ Commissions sought to support the strengthening effort of the New Opportunity Core responsible for the rehabilitation of delinquent young people that came into conflict with the law and were sent to the facility for a period of one to three years. Over the past three years and especially over the past six months there were serious challenges being confronted by staff because of the students’ unbecoming behaviour within the institute.
The institute offers a window of opportunity for the delinquent students who have been to a certain extent been failed by society and could have led a life into further crime and imprisonment. Despite their current situation these adolescents have rights that could benefit them and contribute to positive behaviour change while being in the rehabilitated facility.

Over the a four day period three Commissioners, two Chief Executive Officers, two former students and one Community Life Competence Facilitator were engaged with the students and staff using the Community Life Competence Process to get an understanding from both students and staff their perspectives about the concerns and hopes for strengthening the governing of the institute.

The main purpose of the engagement was competence building effort with the staff and students included activities, viz:
(a) Envision (Dream building,)
(b) Analyze and Prioritize
(c) Action planning
The students expressed concerns of poor nutrition, lack of resources, students controlling staff, poor staff confidence, no night snacks, poor recreational activities, more games, don’t get to go outside, when we expect families to visit and it is postponed, poor staff confidence, lessons, more reading and writing, more attention by staff, more activities such as sport, more respect by staff, more phone calls, NOC needs a psychologist, while the concerns of the staff included kids (students) they need love and attention, I’m concern about the development of the children and the cries of the children who are crush (disappointed) regularly, The inability of dealing with the errant juveniles in an effective way, I’m concern about the behavior of the students, they are very unmannerly, the general protection of the students especially against students GANGS, the discipline at NOC not being maintained, the staff and students protection at the NOC, the students not making use of the opportunity they are given, the students being disrespectful, the students being disrespectful to staff and misbehaving, the moral values of the student, the lack of team work among staff.

What the students wanted to achieve in the future did not differ significantly from the staff. In a dream building exercise the students wanted a pool, skill areas upgraded, have back the dormitory that was burnt down, salon, games for male and females playing together, barber shop, tennis court, café’ mall, improved quality food, higher fence, better playground, church, engaged in agriculture activities and a gym; while the staff dreams developed into a vision statement as follows: “An enabling environment with satisfied staff benefiting students from counselling and appropriate skills training in an enhanced security facility and self-sufficiency in agriculture production.” The staff extended the vision into discrete SMART Outcomes and actions. Ten SMART outcomes were described to achieve the dream and included [1] more financial resources, [2] revise training school and juvenile acts / regulations, [3] better screening of students entering the institute, [4] establish a Board of Directors, [5] Staff development, [6] security system strengthening, [7] a viable agriculture develop program, [8] student support system strengthened, [9] establishment of sub-committees to support administrative system, [10] strengthened spiritual activities.

Concerns and Hopes exercise:-
Usually, when we do this exercise we give individuals a heart-shaped piece of paper and asked to write on side of the paper a ‘concern’ and on the other side a ‘hope’. This time we drew four different cardboards a ‘sun’ symbolizing something the students are happy about, ‘rain’ symbolizing some things the students are unhappy about, half ‘sun / rain’ symbolizing some things that students are either not totally happy or unhappy about, and the ‘circle’ symbolizing neutrality about what happens at NOC.

 Rainy moments

Everything is not what it seems;
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of resources;
- Students controlling staff;
- Poor staff confidence
- No night snacks
- Poor recreational activities

Rain Sunny moments

- When we have games

- When parents visit
- When staff interact with us
- When we have craft
- We don’t get to go outside
- When we expect families to visit and it is postponed
- Poor staff confidence

Sunshine moments

Church activities
- Meet new friends
- Opportunity to learn
- Games
- Staff encouragement when moral is low

Being neutral

- Lessons, more reading and writing;
- More attention by staff
- More activities such as sport
- More respect by staff
- More phone calls
- NOC needs a psychologist

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