MEC condemns stabbing at Arcadia Secondary School

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cape Town - MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Donald Grant, has condemned the stabbing of two learners at Arcadia Secondary School in Bonteheuwel during school's interval.

The incident, alleged to be gang-related, took place on Tuesday at the school's playground, where two Grade 9 pupils stabbed two Grade 8 pupils.

"Our learners are being confronted with violence on a daily basis, which is impacting the quality of learning in our schools and is a risk to some of our learners' lives.

"Learners and gangsters need to know that gangsterism, drugs and violence in our schools will not be tolerated," Grant said.

The incident happened a day after the department announced that 109 schools that are deemed to be high-risk in the province will receive metal detectors, with Arcadia being among the first schools to receive the equipment.

Grant said the district's Safe Schools' coordinator and Institutional Management and Governance manager had visited the school and arranged for trauma counselling and support for the learners and educators, which would commence on Thursday morning.

He said the South African Police Service had increased their visibility around the school.

Despite the measures taken by the department and the safe schools programme, a safe learning environment would be never be achieved if learners themselves do not take responsibility for managing their conflict in a non violent manner, said Grant.

"It is only then that we will be able to reduce crime and violence in our schools, that is why we are focused on implementing behavioural and attitudinal programmes in all of our schools, which include programmes in conflict management and behavioural modification," he said.

Nariman Khan from the Safe Schools programme said that the incident had reiterated the need to look at short, medium and long term interventions at Arcadia.

Khan called for the support of a safety committee of the school to implement early warning signs of violent conflict that might occur and have reporting mechanisms in place to deal with the conflict.

She said the safety resource officers will start mediation next term.

"The social crime prevention officers of SAPS need to work with the gangs in the area and indicate that schools should not be used as battlefields.

"The long term strategy must focus on an integrated approach with all relevant role players, including government and community stakeholders," Khan said.