By Teddy Gomba

  • A workshop convened at Solomon Stix Morewa Clinix Hospital in Johannesburg brought together key personnel from the Gauteng Department of Social Development, Education, Health, and the African Youth Development Forum to assess the implementation of the Ke Moja campaign, aimed at curbing youth drug use.
  • Ke Moja, meaning “no thanks, I am fine,” originated in 2003 as a national campaign to empower youth to resist drug pressure and make informed choices. It operates under the National Drug Master Plan, focusing on activities to educate and raise awareness of substance abuse’s harmful effects while promoting proactive community involvement.
  • In Gauteng Province, the Ke Moja programme is a joint effort between the Department of Social Development, the Gauteng Department of Education, the Africa Youth Development Fund (AYDF), and the South African National Council of Alcoholism (SANCA). AYDF manages the program, overseeing training and monitoring, while SANCA selects community coaches and provides support.

A workshop was held with relevant staff from the Gauteng Department of Social Development, Education, Health, and African Youth Development Forum to evaluate the implementation of the Ke Moja campaign aimed at reducing drugs among the youth at Solomon Stix Morewa Clinix Hospital in Johannesburg.

“Ke Moja” is a colloquialism meaning “no thanks, I am fine”. The word “moja” is a South African colloquial language which means “Fine” while “Ke” is the “Sesotho” language which means “I”. In 2003, the Minister of Social Development launched “Ke Moja” as a National Campaign 

in the South African government aimed at reducing the demands of drugs among the youth by empowering them to make informed choices and resist being pressured into taking drugs. The UNODC and the government of South Africa, with the Department of Social Development as a lead, adopted Ke Moja as a national drug awareness and prevention programme that aims to mobilise against drug abuse.

According to the National Drug Master Plan, Ke Moja’s intention is, “to curb the supply and prevent the new use of illicit drugs.” The Ke Moja programme focuses on using various activities as tools to educate, empower and develop awareness of the harmful effects of substance abuse. This programme also strives to encourage communities to be proactive in promoting their well-being and in making pro-health decisions.

South Africa uses an interdisciplinary approach to substance abuse prevention. For example, the Social Development, Health and Education sectors of government, together with non-governmental organisations play an active role in dealing with the scourge that affects South African youth in particular. 

In Gauteng Province, the Department of Social Development, in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), Africa Youth Development Fund (AYDF) and the South African National Council of Alcoholism (SANCA) are implementing the Ke Moja programme (Burnett & Hollander, 2016). The AYDF oversees the programme, handling tasks such as training coordinators and coaches and monitoring the programme’s implementation progress in schools. SANCA, on the other hand, selects coaches from the community and offers support as required.

The coaches are mainly young people who matriculated but were not able to further their studies in tertiary institutions or could not find employment. Therefore, the programme is also one strategy for creating employment amongst youth.

The coaches are required to be role models to young people when implementing the programme by demonstrating specific values such as honesty, empathy, integrity and respect for self and others. 

Since the programme is aimed at disseminating information and instilling social skills, it includes various modules aimed at empowering learners. These modules cover setting personal goals, self-awareness, healthy living practices, and crucially, education about drugs and alcohol. Learners gain insights into different types of drugs, including legal and illegal substances, understanding their effects, and recognising the risks associated with prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Although learners are taught about the consequences of substance abuse, there is no module which covers how they can avoid being involved in drug use because there are several factors which contribute to young people abusing substances. It should be noted that the facilitators work collaboratively with social workers in identifying learners who might be abusing substances or who have relatives abusing substances. Social workers are expected to work with the identified individuals and their families in providing counselling or referring them to rehabilitation centres.

The gathering acknowledged that in principle there was nothing wrong with how the programme was being implemented, but felt that there was a need to expand the programme to more schools. Currently, about 600 out of 2500 schools are reached in the province. Furthermore, it was felt that there was a need for more programme integrations in the campaign and to ensure that there are school holiday programmes.

Picture by Phetoho Maja


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