Grandfathers are guarding our schools - Cosas

2015-07-23 21:55

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Johannesburg - Government was employing the wrong people to guard South Africa's schools, compromising pupil's safety in the process, the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) said on Thursday.

"The department is putting old grandfathers [in place] to guard our schools. The thing is they are sleeping during the day when they should be doing their job," secretary general Khulekani Skosana told News24.

"The minister [Angie Motshekga] travels with four cars for protection, but there is no one protecting our schools. Even Mandela said there is nothing more important than education in South Africa."

Cosas earlier on Thursday marched on the Department of Basic Education's office in Pretoria.

According to Skosana, about 12 000 people attended.

The march was about safety and security measures at all schools, school sanitation and eradicating containers used as classrooms at schools.

"We are saying to [Basic Education] Minister Angie Motshekga, we want proper facilities in disadvantaged areas," he said.

"No learner must travel more than 3km to school. There should be transport dedicated to getting children to school."

While Cosas understood that change could not happen immediately, there were still schools where students did not have classrooms. Government was not telling the truth about school construction, they said.

"There is no air conditioning in classrooms, but there are in staff rooms," Skosana said.

He said basic things like "a healthy body, healthy mind", which the department often "preached", were ignored in practice.

"There's no public school that has soap in the toilets. Students have to miss almost 30 days of the year because schools don't have sanitary towels, for those who are girls."

He said pupil toilets were in an awful state. Students' dignity was sacrificed, while staff toilets at the same school were in excellent condition.

"The R200m that has been released by MEC Panyaza Lesufi to change the conditions of toilets in Gauteng, we don't see it. We want the toilets of the children to be like the [education] minister's in her office."

'We need the police to intervene'

Skosana called on government to provide feeding schemes for school children, specifically targeting breakfast, so children would not be hungry while they sat in class.

In addition, government should pass regulations to ensure that healthy food was sold at schools.

"We are also members of society. Just because we don't qualify to vote, it doesn't mean we don't deserve service delivery," he said.

"We don't want criminals and drugs in our schools. We need the police to intervene. Safety is crucial in our schools. Learners found gallivanting in school hours must be taken back to school by police.

"We want to be a world class African country, to show the world that African children are conscious on issues of basic education."

Pupils in poorer countries which spent less on education than South Africa were doing better than local pupils.

"No learner must pay school fees. No learner must be refused a school report card because they did not bring a text book," Skosana said, who also called on parents to play a much bigger role in their children's education.

"They must stop complaining and get involved in education."

He said he had been told that at a meeting held for parents at a school where there were 1 000 children, only 30 parents attended.

Read more on:    cosas  |  angie mothsekga  |  pretoria  |  education
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