Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has welcomed the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE’s) assurance that the Department will increase its focus on school safety in 2018, as part of its school readiness programme.
During a presentation in Parliament on 07 November 2017, the Committee was informed that this will include the implementation of the protocol for dealing with incidents of corporal punishment in schools. The DBE will also finalise and implement the protocol for the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools. Committee Chairperson, Ms Nomalungelo Gina said: “It is important for parents and the community to be assured that when our children go to school, they do so in a safe and secure environment. It is equally important for South Africans to see that the Department is taking these matters seriously and is always putting the wellbeing of the child first”.
Other safety measures include the prioritisation of fencing to reduce school safety challenges. This will be coupled with strengthening co-operation and collaboration with the South African Police Services, and related organisations in high-risk areas. A further 210 fencing projects and 1,356 water and sanitation projects have been prioritised for school readiness for 2018.
The Committee further heard that 494 schools were damaged by storms during September and October 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal and an estimated amount of R21 million is required to rehabilitate those schools. The Department of Public Works will conduct further assessments and carry out urgent repairs to these schools. Mobile classrooms have been provided to the affected schools in the meantime. The Committee indicated that it will continue to monitor the implementation of all the Department’s projects and programmes.