Deputy Minister for the Department of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule, this morning, led a delegation from various governments departments and stakeholders to launch a Multi-Sectoral School Safety Initiative at Tshepana Primary School in Orange Farm, Gauteng Province. The campaign was launched under the theme, “School Safety – Violence, and Bullying Prevention Initiative”.
This multi-faceted annual intervention initiative will be embarking on School Safety Roadshows across various provinces. Government departments that are participating in this intergovernmental initiative include, amongst others, the South African Police Service; the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development; Health; Home Affairs; Communications and Digital Technologies; Sports, Arts and Culture; and Social Development; as well as UNESCO. The DBE is convinced that if communities come together to work towards a common goal, such as to promote school safety in schools across the country, schools in totality will become safe havens for moulding positive behaviour amongst learners. Critical issues to be dealt with as part of the campaign will include, amongst others, social ills such as corporal punishment, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, bullying, school related gender based violence including sexual harassment and abuse in schools.
“Violence in schools negatively impacts on education in terms of access, retention and achievement. The initiative aims at changing the behaviour of Grade 10 to 12 learners, School Management Teams (SMTs), principals, parents and School Governing Body (SGB) Associations, whilst equipping them with the skills to respond effectively to incidents of bullying,” explained Mr Paseka Njobe, Director for School Safety at the DBE.
Deputy Minister Mhaule said that SMTs should be the duty bearers of children's rights and protection to create safe school environments. Therefore, the SMTs need to ensure that they follow the correct procedures in reporting any form of abuse, corporal punishment, bullying and sexual abuse and harassment incidences. “The National School Safety Framework (NSSF) is a comprehensive approach that coordinates and consolidates all school safety interventions in the sector. The Department is implementing two Protocols, namely the Protocol for the Management and Reporting of Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Schools; and the Protocol to deal with Incidences of Corporal Punishment in Schools. The impact of the two Protocols have already been felt with a rise in the reporting of incidents. Let's promote school cultures that are wise and kind; and ensure everyone upholds the constitutional values of our country to ensure social cohesion and ubuntu in our schools," said Dr Mhaule.