Gov works on safe schools

2016-02-09 06:00

Visits have been carried out at Ocean View schools to determine their safety needs.

This follows a meeting between the schools and the education department’s circuit manager in which a number of safety concerns for pupils were raised.

Safety audits are done at schools to determine safety and security needs, including security infrastructure, as well as health and safety training, explains Jessica Shel­ver, spokesperson of the provincial education department. Based on these audits, schools and their needs are prioritised and support is given to schools as far as is practicable and in the budget.

“It was requested at a meeting that the Safe Schools coordinator visit the schools in Ocean View again to further ascertain safety needs,” she says.

Among the issues raised by the schools were that pupils were unsafe walking to and from school. There have been gang-related incidents during break times and outside school gates at the end of the school day.

Concerns were also raised that the perimeters of the schools are not secured, with people jumping over to fight, sell drugs and even throw stones at teachers. In addition, the entrances to the school are not sufficiently monitored to control access.

Anti-gangsterism and -violence programmes are offered to schools, says Shel­ver.

“During last year several meetings were held between Nicro and Safe Schools to help one primary school and the high school in Ocean View with an anti-gangsterism programme. The primary school then indicated that it would like to postpone the programme and the programme will therefore only take place this year. Safe Schools has also in the past embarked on holiday programmes in Ocean View which was attended by pupils from the various primary schools in the area,” she says.

Over the past few years, Safe Schools also provided funding to schools in Ocean View for alarms and stone guards.

Work is being done at Ocean View High School, Shelver says.

“Unfortunately, in communities where gangsterism is prominent, it can sometimes spill into our schools,” she says.

Community safety and crime control rest with the police, she says.

“Gangsterism is a broad societal issue and while the education department cannot be held solely responsible for it, we can try and minimise its impact in our schools. The department does all it can in terms of its budget to protect our pupils and our schools. But ultimately, it is also the responsibility of the police and communities to ensure the safety of our pupils by preventing gangsterism in these areas.”

At a recent community meeting to address concerns over school safety, the newly appointed Ocean View police station commander informed community members that officers were undertaking more after-hours shifts and more visible policing to reduce gang-related crime.

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