Parents call for drastic measures to combat rising violence in Gauteng schools
During a recent engagement session with the Gauteng legislature, parents and teachers recommended the profiling of learners affiliated with gangs to deter their movement between schools.
Keeping records profiling learners involved in gangs and installing police stands in schools were some of the submissions made by parents to the Gauteng legislature recently to address violent incidents at schools.
The legislature’s portfolio committees on education and community safety are formulating a report on how Gauteng can deal with the violence.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Gauteng officials intend to beef up school security after Grade 10 pupil is killed at Geluksdal Secondary
A stakeholder engagement session was conducted by the committees at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, Gauteng on 31 August at which parents, activists, political parties and civil society organisations made submissions.
A similar session, planned for next week, involving learners and political parties led by young people, will culminate in the final report.
During the August engagement session, parents said that profiling learners would give schools records of their behaviour before admitting them.
Without such records, parents said, problem learners could move from one school to the next without being detected.
According to a Gauteng Education Department report, there were about 245 high-risk schools with such learners. Of these, 75 had been prioritised to be assisted with a number of interventions.
These interventions include:
- Deploying security guards day and night;
- Distributing hand-held metal detectors to search learners for dangerous weapons;
- Providing e-panic buttons for 3,000 staff members;
- Initiating patrols and providing patrollers;
- Training safety wardens; and
- Installing CCTV cameras.
The Gauteng Education Department declined a request from Daily Maverick to provide a list of these schools.
A parent at the engagement session described the behaviour of learners in her child’s school, saying teachers were dealing with “little monsters”.
This sentiment was shared by many parents, who expressed a need for the government to step up efforts to deal with violent learners.
One teacher said he was scared to go to school.
“My family gets worried when I go to work and wonder if I will come back alive,” he said.
Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said, “According to information at our disposal, challenges from home influence the antisocial behaviour displayed by the culprits at our schools. Learner ill-discipline is a challenge.”
He said the department had embarked on a Quality Teaching and Learning Campaign to mobilise communities and school stakeholders, and to ensure that quality teaching and learning takes place in a conducive environment.
The department, Mabona said, was implementing programmes to offset the challenges of violence and ill-discipline.
The programmes included parenting workshops aimed at strengthening parent and guardian involvement in supervising homework; instilling learner discipline in and outside the school environment; making school governing bodies (SGBs) and principals aware of the disciplinary procedures for learners; and partnerships with the departments of Social Development, Community Safety and related NGOs.
“The approach is both proactive and reactive,” Mabona said.
School talks and camps, he said, were being held to inculcate good behaviour, and awareness campaigns were conducted after certain incidents.
He said there were also camps during school holidays that focused on behaviour modification for learners who had been carefully selected by their schools.
Learners with behavioural challenges and those identified as having criminal tendencies were given guided tours of correctional facilities to deter any aberrant behaviour. This was done in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services.
Unannounced searches at high-risk schools, he said, were carried out in partnership with the police and metro police.
“Dangerous weapons, drugs and alcohol are frequently retrieved during these search and seizure operations.”
Another intervention was Safer South Africa’s Justice Programme, which exposed learners to the intricacies of the justice system, through interactions with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority.
Mabona said schools were assisted in implementing preventative measures to curb the recurrence of violent incidents.
“We have a policy of zero tolerance to bullying or any form of misconduct. Anyone found to be transgressing this policy is dealt with in line with the South African Schools Act code of conduct, which governs all schools.”
He said schools were urged to enforce their codes of conduct to deal with bullying and other disciplinary matters.
“The department … appeals to parents in assisting to enforce discipline in and outside the school environment,” he said. DM