PSA concerned about safety of learners and educators at schools



Published Feb 7, 2023


Johannesburg - The Public Servants Association (PSA) said it was concerned about the safety of learners and educators at most public schools where security is non-existent or inadequate.

This follows recent chaotic and violent incidents at schools that claimed the lives of pupils and threatened safety of others including the school staff.

An attacker was shot dead by an educator at Kagiso High School last Wednesday. In another incident, a Grade 10 learner at Geluksdal Secondary School in Brakpan was stabbed to death in an after school hours incident over pepper spray on Tuesday.

The association described the shooting and killing of a knife-wielding attacker by an educator at Kagiso Secondary School as its great concern because the attacker found his way to the school's principal with the intention of causing harm to him.

"This raises further concerns about the efficiency of security when armed strangers can easily enter a school yard without being detected," PSA said.

Despite the ongoing lack of resources and overcrowding, PSA said bullying and gangsterism were serious issues that required the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and society's intervention.

PSA said the focus might be on an educator who brought a gun onto the school premises as schools are supposed to be gun-free and safe spaces for learners and educators, but stated that the reality was different. "Educators are aware that their environment is not safe and conducive, with realities of attacks by learners and members of the public," it said.

It said the Department was not able to provide much-needed protection as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act that placed a legal burden and obligation on employers to provide a workplace that was safe and without risks to employees.

"In view of mounting concern about the safety of learners and educators on school premises, the PSA launched a #SchoolSafety programme in 2020. As part of this behaviour-changing initiative, schools are visited to engage and motivate learners in cooperation with the Department of Basic Education, the South African Police Service, and Old Mutual," PSA said.

The PSA encouraged communities to embrace schools as safe places to ensure an optimum environment for teaching and learning and better results for learners and it also encouraged the private sector to support this programme to not only safeguard learners and educators, but to restore dignity and trust in schools.

"It cannot be accepted that schools become places of violence and bullying with parents and families not being sure that their loved ones will return," it added.

The association further advised the government to consider using the Expanded Public Works Programme to assist with access control at schools where the department and school governing bodies (SGBs) were failing to employ security guards.

"The provision of security officers at schools and metal detectors will also assist to improve security at schools," it said.

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