Basic Education, police partner to ensure school safety

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the police have signed a pact to develop a range of crime prevention programmes that will improve safety at schools.

The Partnership Protocol Agreement was actually signed on 11 April 2011 by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Tuesday’s signing ceremony was a symbolic one, held at Sakhisizwe Secondary School in Kanana Park, south of Johannesburg.

The main objective of the agreement is to establish safe school committees across the country.

“Working with the police, we will ensure that schools are safe havens where people don’t have a fear of being attacked,” Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty said on Tuesday.

Surty, accompanied by Police Deputy Minister Maggie Sotyu, signed a pledge that binds teachers, pupils and the community to combat violence in schools.

Also present at the signing ceremony was National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, who underscored the importance of a conducive environment for learning.

“At the heart of school safety is an environment [that] is conducive to learning. We want one common thing as the police, which is to ensure that schools are safe and secure,” said Phiyega, adding that the fight against crime should be a collective effort involving communities and not just the police.

The DBE said that implementation of the protocol agreement has already begun, with 18 309 schools having been linked to police stations. School safety committees have also been established.

The protocol will be headed by the police’s Visible Policing Division and Basic Education’s School Safety and Enrichment Programme, which have acknowledged that the issue of crime and violence in schools is a shared responsibility.

Sotyu said the protocol would give “clear guidelines on how and who responds in situations of crime at schools”. It would also instil sound values for the positive development of young people into responsible citizens.

Sotyu urged pupils to focus on their studies and to stay away from crime.

“It is hurting to see what happens in schools,” said the deputy minister, referring to reports on Monday that a Soweto teenager was found dead in a neighbour’s yard and several high school pupils were questioned over the matter.

“What kind of leaders are we going to have in the future?” she asked the packed marquee made up of pupils, parents  and community members.

“Our government cares about you; we want to build our nation.”

Surty said South Africa had come a long way since the dawn of democracy, with children now being able to attend no-fee schools as well as obtaining a meal at school.

“Much has changed,” said Surty, adding that while August was celebrated as Women’s Month, girl learners were punching above their weight. He encouraged boy learners to protect girl leaners. He urged pupils to pursue their studies. -

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