New committee will look after pupils

2015-06-02 06:00

In an effort to “take back their community” the Athlone Community Police Forum (CPF) is establishing a safer schools committee to create an action plan to address issues for high schools in the area.

According to Edward Doe, member of the Athlone CPF tasked with education-related issues, it came to light in several community meetings that issues such as drug abuse, truancy and gangsterism were rife at schools in the Athlone area.

“These were concerns raised by the community, parents with children at these school, during our meetings. The idea to establish a safer schools committee was born of a need to provide a solution for these issues,” says Doe.

The schools that have been identified as high-risk and who will be part of the pilot phase of the safer schools project are Spes Bona High, Athlone High, Ned Doman High, Bridgetown High, Garlandale High and Peak View High School.

Doe is of the opinion that in order for this committee to work, it must be “all-inclusive”.

“We need the buy-in of all involved – this means there should be representation by pupils, parents, teachers, government bodies and the police. We need to take back our schools, but we need the input of everybody for it to succeed.”

Doe says the hands of school principals and that of the police are tied when it comes to police access to the schools.

“This is why we need the cooperation of the provincial government. We want to draw up a policy that principals can refer to when addressing issues relating to crime.”

Another issue pupils are grappling with is the lack of alternatives to a life of crime or gangsterism. “They told us it is easy to say ‘Don’t smoke or use drugs or belong to a gang’, but what is the alternative to this? There should be a choice for our children.”

Doe says the next meeting is likely to take place in the June school holidays in order for pupils to attend.

“We don’t want a long drawn-out process, but we also want to do things the proper way. We want this to succeed and bring about positive changes in our community.”


Interested parties can contact Edward Doe on 072 613 3336

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