KNYSNA NEWS - Oakhill School and the broader Knysna community were recently inspired at a phenomenal talk by internationally renowned presenter Nene Molefi.
Over the past 18 years, Molefi has gained a reputation both locally and internationally as a thought leader in diversity and inclusion, values-driven leadership and transformation.
Oakhill teachers, parents and community members alike were captivated by Molefi's every word.
With great insight, humour and passion, she beautifully articulated many of the conscious and unconscious biases we all carry at some level, be it across gender, race, age, ability or other spheres. Her message emphasised that every individual can contribute towards social cohesion.
Members of the broader Knysna community were also suitably impressed. Vanessa Eyre from Dream Knysna commented, "What an inspiring and incredible lady. We all have so much 'unzipping' to do to ensure respect and upliftment. Wow … I could have listened to Nene for hours and hours and feel so privileged to have been included in this inspiring talk."
Nicholas Njozela, head of Percy Mdala High School, felt equal admiration, stating, "Nene was superb and her message was very encouraging and uplifting indeed. She tapped on the concealed realities of life, where denial of many is evident."
Head of Oakhill School, Jannie de Villiers, sums up a key proponent of Molefi's message: "We must eradicate the stereotypes and start new meaningful beginnings with introspection aimed at finding our unconscious biases."
It is with this purpose that Oakhill School is actively striving to help its pupils become mindful of unconscious biases; finding a responsible, authentic, sustainable and continuous way to progress with the work around diversity and inclusion. Molefi opened the process with pupils by addressing Grade 7 to 11s and kick-starting a day of hands-on workshops requiring all pupils' active participation in panel discussions on the specific topics of racial, gender, social and learning diversity.
The programme was Oakhill's first whole-school step and it exceeded all expectations, marking the start of what will become part of the "norm" at Oakhill.
Pupils unanimously felt a greater awareness and understanding of their fellow pupils' unique journeys, realising that "we all just want to be included", and that "exclusion is not okay".
With sincere buy-in, deep engagement and rich feedback from students and staff, Oakhill was very pleased with the success of the programme and intends to follow up by continuing to provide opportunities where individuals feel safe enough to show themselves and be seen.
Says De Villiers, "In the end, we are hoping to achieve greater awareness of the wonderful diversity that exists in our community and to embrace this as a strength."
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