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Basic Education department briefs parliament on violence in schools and measures taken to address the problem, 04 August 2015

 

The Department of Basic Education has briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education about violence in schools. Experiences of violence at school, and related to the school environment, are common throughout the country. Safety and nonviolence in schools are critical requirements to the achievement of educational outcomes and integral to our vision for quality basic education.

 

The Department told Members of Parliament that regular or prolonged presence of police in schools didn't yield the desired results as this approach has been shown to increase mistrust in the police, undermine respect for authority, negatively affect concentration and school performance, as well as often leading to profiling and targeting of certain at-risk learners who require interventions other than those bringing them into contact with the law. Dr Granville Whittle, the Deputy Director-General for Care and Support at the Department of Basic Education said reliance on police, and security guards, result in a dependence on law enforcement to maintain discipline, and interfere in education.  


Dr Whittle said armed security guards often assumed the role of police, had no effect in identifying and mediating potential conflict, and have been shown to have little effect in preventing gun violence. He said the zero-tolerance approaches to drugs, alcohol and violence didn't address root causes.  Zero tolerance approaches are more likely to exclude children from the formal education system,    increasing risk of further and more serious contact with the law. 

 

Metal detectors (when provided as part of an infrastructure programme and nothing else):    these have been shown in some instances to decrease the likelihood of guns at schools, but have no impact on other weapons including knives. They have also been shown to    have no impact at all when rolled out in isolation of other interventions. Dr Whittle said the rate of violence in our schools was higher than in other countries.


The Department's response to school safety is underpinned by the following:

 

  • School violence is undergirded by a myriad of individual, school, family and broader community-level risk factors that coalesce to create vulnerability for violence. 

·         Any attempt to curb violence occurring in schools needs to extend beyond the school itself.

·         Parental & Community support, including prevention and early intervention are the most reliable and cost-effective ways to support school safety. 

 

·         Provide learners a voice; ensure participation, in identifying safety concerns and geographies, and developing measures to enhance safety.

·         Ensure commitment and engagement of parents and community members, with VERY defined roles and responsibilities, to monitor boundaries, entrance and egress points at specific times of days.

 

The National School Safety Framework was approved in April 2015 and the training of identified Provincial Master Trainers in all nine provinces has commenced on 29 June and will be completed by the end of August 2015.

 

The National School Safety Framework (NSSF) provides an important instrument through which minimum standards for safety at school can be established, implemented and monitored.


An exemplar Code of Conduct has been developed by the Department and distributed to all Provinces to serve as an example for schools to develop their own context specific Codes of Conduct for Learners.

The South African Schools Act identifies 5 levels behaviour transgressions. Levels one to three can be managed internally by teachers, the principal and senior management team members. Levels 4-5 warrants the intervention of the District-based support teams or professionals and warrants recommendations in terms of possible expulsion, e.g. threatening the lives of fellow learners (involvement of dangerous weapons), rape, sexual violence, constant use of illegal substances or trafficking of illegal substances, violence against a teacher. 

 

The Department has done the following; 

 

•Strategy and Guidelines have been printed and distributed to all provinces.

•Strategy and guidelines have been communicated and facilitated at interprovincial meetings for School Safety.

•Drug testing guidelines has been developed through support of UNICEF and distributed to all provinces for implementation.

 

The Department is in the process of reviewing and amending the Regulations for Safety Measures at Public Schools promulgated in terms of Government Gazette No. 22754 of 12 October 2001

 

Mandatory implementation of the National School Safety Framework by all schools

 

Specific attention given to: 

 

·         Safety risk assessments to be conducted twice a year

·         Development of School Safety Plans by all schools

·         Emergency Plan and disaster management procedures 

·         Supervision of learners during and after official school activities to be implemented by all schools

·         Access Control Measures for learners and visitors to be implemented

·         Transportation of learners during and after school hours on school excursions for academic purposes or sport and cultural activities. 

·         Pesticides and hazardous substances

 

 

Considerable attention has been paid to the matter of school violence over the past five years. Making a real impact on school violence and achieving safe school environments is only likely to happen when school safety is integrated as a fundamental component of local safety strategies, and when the role and commitment of all stakeholders – beyond the schools – is recognised and secured in working towards local level community safety strategies.  

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 1/11/2016
Number of Views: 1133

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