Guest Column

Forest High: It takes a village to raise a child

2019-06-06 10:10
Forest High School.

Forest High School. (Twitter)

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It's time we bring back morals and inculcate the values of Ubuntu in our school environment. Turning the situation around will be a mammoth task and requires an intergovernmental approach, writes Vuyolwethu Zungula.

As gun and knife wielding gangs continue to terrorise our public schools, teachers, learners and parents alike are increasingly living in fear. More and more children are caught up in bloody raging battles between rival gangs operating in schools.

This week, one parent described Forest High School in Turffontein, where 18-year-old Daniel Bakwela was stabbed to death in cold blood, as "a drug den" and a dysfunctional school. Concerned and equally scared parents secretly talked about school committees that have collapsed, the nonexistence of discipline and the school having become a haven for drug peddlers and criminals. Pupils walk in and out of the school premises armed with guns, knives, sjamboks and other dangerous weapons.

Bakwela was a victim of ongoing gang and drug related murders in and around public schools. Two of his friends were lucky to survive the stabbings after being admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, the Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has also joined the chorus, bemoaning the fact that he is now issuing more death certificates faster than he can issue matric certificates. There appears to be no concrete plan from the Department of Basic Education on how to clamp down on the rising school violence.

As if that's not enough, there isn't any concrete government coordinated approach between the Department of Basic Education, the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies to nip the problem in the bud. All the while the number of young men being mercilessly killed in school related violence is mounting.  

In March, another boy was attacked and stabbed multiple times to death by his fellow school-mates on his way to Mondeor High School. In the same month a teacher in KwaZulu-Natal was killed in a hail of bullets on school premises.

Evidence of our violence-riddled public schools is further highlighted on social media. Every day, we are bombarded by disturbing videos of violent behaviour inside classrooms. Pupils assault, swear and disrespect their teachers. We also see a culture of deadly brawls on school playgrounds.  

According to reports, last year alone at least 22 pupils were killed at different schools across the country. This is a crisis that needs a serious government intervention working with community-based stakeholders.

It's time that government moves with speed to bring back the law-abiding culture in our schools and communities. It's clear that our police are only reactive to the school violent incidents, as a result the police need proper training and resources to better deal with the problem.

It's time we bring back morals and inculcate the values of Ubuntu in our school environment. Turning the situation around will be a mammoth task and requires an intergovernmental approach. The Department of Basic Education needs to invite religious and cultural leaders to the party, appoint morally upright school governing bodies and principals and get meaningful community participation and buy-in.

It's true of the African proverb that: it takes a village to raise a child.

- Vuyolwethu Zungula is president of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and a member of Parliament.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

Read more on:    school shooting  |  forest high school
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