Solutions at Indaba to end school violence
A multi-pronged approach to dealing with drugs and violence in Eastern Cape schools was adopted during a two-day Schools Safety Indaba held in East London last week, spearheaded by the new MEC for Education, Fundile Gade, together with multiple stakeholders. Stakeholders resolved that the Liquor Board must organise Imbizos for a Drug and Substance free community.
The police have been mandated to do regular and random search and seizure in schools.
Within the next two weeks, School Safety Committees must be established to deal with school access control, appointing safety officers and scholar patrols. This is in pursuit of inculcating core values, high levels of discipline and good morals for learners and educators.
The Indaba primarily focused on drug abuse, children in conflict with the law, violence in schools, gender-based violence, school security and safety measures, infrastructure issues relevant to school safety and support systems, as well as partnerships.
According to the Human Rights Watch, “For many children, the biggest threat to their right to education is not discrimination or lack of access to schools, but violence and drugs within or near their schools that undermines their ability to learn, puts their physical and psychological well-being at risk, and often causes them to drop out of school entirely. Children’s right to education entails not only the presence of schools and teachers, but also an environment that allows them to learn in safety.”
The Indaba began with ascertaining causes of school-based violence and how it affects educators and learners. This begins with the promotion of healthy lifestyle amongst learners. “The Indaba sought to build a network of partnerships with education stakeholders to support the Eastern Cape Department of Education’s efforts to inculcate positive discipline in schools and reverse the scourge of rampant violence that impacts negatively on learning and teaching,” said the Department’s spokesperson, Malibongwe Mtima.
Civil society came out in full support of this much-needed initiative. Stakeholders involved were the police, social development, traditional leaders, child welfare, municipalities, the Liquor Board, Correctional Services, Department of Justice and Health to establish a functional Eastern Cape School Safety Sector Forum. “There has to be community ownership of schools. Every school must have linkages with a social worker and a university, daily enforcement of the code of conduct for both learners and teachers, awareness campaigns, quarterly School Safety Forum Meetings to reflect on the progress made,” said Mtima.
Head Office will arrange a special Customer Care line dedicated to report school safety issues.