Address by the Deputy Minister of Education, Andre Gaum, at the Torch of Peace Handover event at Khesethwane Secondary School, Mawa, Mopani District, Limpopo.
16 January 2009
MEC: Dr. Motsoaledi
Head of Department of the Limpopo Education Department: Reverend Nevhutalu
Principal of Khesethwane Secondary School: Mr Emmanuel Motsai
Chairperson of the SGB : Mr LB Mohale
Officials of the Limpopo Department of Education
Yesterday, the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, received the Torch of Peace from the Minister of Transport, Mr Jeff Radebe.
She said that “the Torch is a symbolic reminder of the importance of education in building and developing a safe and caring society”.
And that is what it is, what the Torch campaign is about.
Two years ago, we prioritised 585 schools throughout the country, identified as “unsafe”.
This school is included in that programme.
We’ve learnt valuable lessons. Violence and vandalism at these schools has dropped. Some schools report that there has been a change of behaviour among learners as well.
Principals and teachers at all the 585 schools have been trained in the Hlayiseka approach to dealing with incidents of crime and violence in schools. Principals, teachers and learners now know how to take charge and manage crime in a proactive manner.
We’ve introduced a number of laws, policies and guidelines that will assist schools in managing various issues that pose a threat to the school community.
A template for a Code of Conduct for Learners has been developed and published.
Substance abuse makes crime in this area.
I would like to remind parents and learners that schools now have much stronger powers to search learners for weapons and drugs.
I encourage you to make use of the law and the literature government has provided.
Make informed choices.
Say, ‘ke moja’ – I’m fine without drugs.
Action needs to be taken against shebeens that are close to schools. Get them to open in the evening when schools are closed.
I believe that every adult should be a role model for our children.
I am deeply disturbed by the actions of the few teachers who are sexual predators in schools.
Stop it. Don’t do it. You wreck lives. You destroy families. You infuriate communities.
Too often boys and men don’t know what sexual harassment is.
We can tell you. We have drawn up “Guidelines for the Prevention and management of Sexual Violence and Harassment in public schools”.
It will tell you what sexual harassment is – yes “unwanted sexual attention”, that’s what it is, name calling, abuse, bullying - and assist school managers manage cases when they arise.
The DoE has embarked on a campaign to lay solid foundations for learning.
We cannot achieve success in this campaign when our schools are still riddled with crime and violence.
We’re committed to improving teaching and learning.
We’ve prioritised literacy and numeracy in primary schools as a basis for achieving this quality education for all.
We all have a role to play in supporting young South Africans in the critical areas of literacy and numeracy.
We all have a role to play in helping learners to form and participate in reading clubs.
All of us here today have a role to play in ensuring that the results for this school improve.
“It takes a village to raise a child” – here in the Mawa community.
Strengthen the relations between schools, communities and the local government institutions such as the Health, Social Development and South African Police Services.
Strengthen school-safety committees and school-based support teams.
Strengthen the Adopt- A-Cop project.
How do you strengthen? You get involved: parents, teachers and pupils. You get involved.
As I handover the Torch of Peace today, I challenge MEC Motsoaledi and this school community to make schools safer.
I look forward to hearing from you about the measures the province has put in place to improve school safety.
Take the message to every school in your province and let’s create good schools and safe school environments.