There is no denying the fact that education remains on the back foot as far as the future of this all important part of the training of learners is concerned. There is also no refuting the fact that education is a stepping stone out of poverty, a key that equips individuals for a brighter future. Therefore, the quality and the professionalism that is required from those who offer education should be of the utmost highest importance.
Despite this, we remain very concerned that learners across the country seem to have suddenly adopted a very disturbing trend through which they have decided that its “cool” to kill or murder other learners at school.
The situation has developed into a fashionable trend as reports of learners stabbing others with a variety of sharp objects like knives and scissors make the news headlines almost on a daily basis. It is obvious parents have become worried each and every day not knowing whether their children would return safely from school.
In a report last week, the department of basic education said the Angie Motshekga administration took school safety very seriously and as an apex priority, the department has put in place various policies and measures to ensure the safety of all learners , educators and relevant stakeholders in schools.
The department reiterates that there is no place for violence, drug use or abuse, sexual harassment and other criminal acts in school as it poses a serious barrier to learning.
The fact that would-be teachers who are still studying towards teaching degrees are wondering whether they had made the correct choice of entering the teaching profession.
The fact that their future cannot be guaranteed by the education department as they will face both dangerously and heavily armed ill-disciplined learners as well as a system which threatens their future if they are found to have engage in corporal punishment makes theirs an even more challenging decision.
There is great focus on the inclusion of values and ethics and of a just and caring society within schools and communities. The Department views these ills violence, sexual harassment drug abuse and ill-discipline in a serious light because they carry a potential to deprive our learners of their inherent constitutional rights to life, education, equality and dignity.
In general, the safety of all stakeholders including children and educators at school can hardly be guaranteed. Interventions have focused on addressing elements of physical infrastructure related to proper fencing, alarm systems and burglar proofing, resilience- building programmes for young people and the strengthening of partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
While the Department has a solid partnership with the SAPS aimed at linking schools with local police stations and the establishment of functional School Safety Committees , schools are critical in instilling discipline and ensuring safety, hence the emphasis of the Code of Conduct for Learners at all public schools.
Schools are therefore directly responsible for providing an environment conducive to the delivery of quality teaching and learning by among other things, promoting the rights and safety of all learners, teachers and parents.
We say that with all these “safety measures” in place, every individual educator, learner and other stakeholders including parents must come to the party and play their role in helping the situation as is fast developing into a very scary problem which might be difficult to bring to a complete halt later.