School safety: We have failed, admits state

2015-08-04 14:19
(Pictures courtesy of Ridge Times Newspaper)

(Pictures courtesy of Ridge Times Newspaper)

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The basic education department has admitted that all its intervention to make schools safer have failed. 

Deputy director of the department’s student care and support unit, Dr Granville Whittle, told the portfolio committee on basic education that violence in schools has risen sharply since 2008. 

Bullying in classrooms and violence against teachers are other concerns. 

“Violence is a problem in South Africa and also in the rest of the world. Our figures show that the interventions we have implemented are not helping,” said Whittle. 

Having armed police officers at schools hadn’t helped, neither had security upgrades, such as the installation of CCTV cameras and fences, he said. 

“Security fences were ‘looted’ or damaged in some communities, days after they were erected. After-school activities and detention do not help much. It is clear that our programmes are not working. But we have new ideas,” he said. 

The plans include creating smaller classes and to help teachers to identify “problem learners”. 

Figures show that 20% of pupils are affected by violence and bullying. According to the department there are more than 25 000 schools in the country with nearly 12.8 million students and 416 085 teachers. 

Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Annette Lovemore said the figures were too high. 

“Too many learners are affected by violence in our schools. This cannot continue. I think also to say that department interventions has failed is purely unfair.” 

ANC MP Joyce Basson said: “Thank you for the honest presentation. We know there are many problems and the situation is not looking good. But we need to look at new ways of improving school safety before we sit with an uncontrollable situation.”

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