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Ensuring safety in schools

Written by Albert Pule
The Department of Education in Gauteng, in partnership with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, will work closely to make sure that learners in Gauteng schools are safe.

Gauteng Department of Education is stepping up efforts to make schools safer in the province.Spokesperson for the department Phumla Sekhonyane said the partnership between the SAPS is part of the School Safety Strategy.

“As part of the School Safety Strategy, the Gauteng Department of Education in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Community Safety and SAPS has linked all Gauteng schools with their respective local police stations through the assignment of a police officer to each school and the additional support of a police sector vehicle allocated to precincts within which each school falls.”

Sekhonyane added that in most cases the level of violence in schools was a reflection of challenges faced by society and had to be addressed jointly by government and communities.

“The department recognises that education is a societal issue and that schools are a microcosm of local communities where local challenges such as violence, alcohol and drug abuse are reflected and ultimately impact negatively on the achievement of quality basic education.”

In instances where schools experience cases of violence and ill-discipline, there is communication with the parents and both victims and perpetrators are given support.

“Cases of violence are acted on immediately; parents are informed of an incident, perpetrators go through a disciplinary process and appropriate sanction is recommended. In most cases, psychosocial support is provided to both victims and perpetrators,” said Sekhonyane. 

Added to this, the department also has other steps to deal with ill-discipline and violence in schools.

These include the deployment of patrollers at no-fee paying high-risk schools, equipping school safety committees, fencing schools with weak or compromised fencing to promote effective access control, helping all public schools to develop standardised and compliant school safety policies, developing a programme to fight gangsterism in schools and developing an Anti-Bullying policy exemplar for schools to develop their own customised one for implementation in their schools.

With regard to the department’s role in fighting drugs at schools:

  • The department encourages schools to develop policies to assist with curbing substance abuse.
  • School Based Support Teams are equppied to identify different types of drugs and the various symptoms.
  • Educators in high-risk areas have been trained in general skills to manage substance abuse in schools.
  • Substance abuse is incorporated into the curriculum through Life Orientation. Peer support groups like the Girl Empowerment Movement and Boy Empowerment Movement have also been introduced at secondary schools.

 

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