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Role players called to safeguard schools!

Speaking on recommendations to prevent school violence, Nontsikelelo Dlulani, from Equal Education, said interventions that respond to immediate safety threats, as well as more long-term, proactive and preventative measures must be developed.

Dlulani was speaking at a webinar hosted by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on Thursday, discussing school safety.

The webinar aimed to identify the causes of violence in schools, and call for all role players to play their part in making sure schools are a safe place for both learners and teachers.

The webinar also aims to inform the public of reactionary measures to address violent incidents and discuss possible solutions to prevent violence in schools

Dlulani said ongoing advocacy efforts must call for more deliberate coordination between relevant government departments to respond to school safety challenges.

“There is a need for adequate physical security infrastructure to maintain and improve access control at schools, capacitation of psychological support services to improve learner’s access is also very key, along with regular training and support of school-based safety structures,” she said.

Dlulani said in order to fight the inequalities that exist in the education system, there needs to be cooperation between learners, teachers, parents and the community as a whole.

She said that what happens in communities happens in schools because schools exist within a community.

During the organization’s Safe Schools campaign, Dlulani said they realised that social ills such as poverty, unemployment and gangsterism are rampant in most communities in the Western Cape and they spill into schools, exposing children and teachers to violence and other safety threats.

“A 2015 Social Audit on School Safety and Sanitation showed that more than half of the schools surveyed lack a full time security guard and 40% of learners have experienced a violent incident,” she said.

Dlulane said factors that contribute to unsafe school environments and violent incidents are lack of psychological support, inadequate training and support, poor access control and security infrastructure, and lack of training on government interventions.

School safety committee

 

Speaking on behalf of the SAPS, Lieutenant Colonel Tsekiso Mofokeng, said all schools have a school safety committee, where issues of safety are discussed.

These include safe guarding the environment and making sure that it is conducive for learners to learn and teachers to teach.

National Commissioner Project

Mofokeng touched on the Junior National Commissioner Project, which is one of the SAPS’ Youth Crime Prevention flagship project that seeks to provide the youth of South Africa an opportunity to contribute, and play a meaningful role in ensuring a safe and conducive learning environment in schools.

“This programme seeks to have Grade 8 and 9 pupils understand that they as the citizens of the country should take care of themselves and others. We have 142 police stations in Gauteng and in each of them, there is a Junior station commander, where we give them topics on issues of crime and they discuss them.

“This brings the learners closer to understanding issues of crime. We also allow them to share crime patterns in their own areas and come up with solutions or intervention programmes at their own level, and advise the station commander on how to deal with the crimes,” he said.

Adopt-a-Cop

Mofokeng said the Provincial Commissioner in Gauteng has come up with a new initiative called Adopt-a-Cop or Adopt-a-School project, where members at different police stations have “adopted” schools in their policing precinct.

“The designated police officers are responsible for creating awareness at schools and sensitising learners on the dangers of bullying, substance abuse, dealing in drugs, carrying of dangerous weapons as well as gangsterism among other things,” he said.

The webinar has resolved that all role players, including the Department of Basic Education, Department of Social Development and the SAPS, need to come together and partner to come up with a more cohesive programme that will help in making schools a safer place again.