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Department of Basic Education is concerned about the safety of pupils in schools. PIC supplied

Safety in Schools a priority

Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has welcomed the assurance by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) that it will increase its focus on school safety in 2018, as part of its school readiness programme.

The Committee heard in Parliament on Tuesday that leaners safety of leaners would include the implementation of the protocol for dealing with incidents of corporal punishment in schools.

DBE said it would also finalise and implement the protocol for the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools.

Committee Chairperson Nomalungelo Gina said this was heartening, saying in recent times increased reporting on such matters featured in the media.

“It is important for parents and the community at large to be assured that when our children go to school, they do so in a safe and secure environment. Furthermore, it is just as important for South Africans to see that the Department is taking these matters seriously and is always putting the wellbeing of the child first,” said Gina.

Other measures include the prioritisation of fencing to reduce school safety challenges.

This will be coupled with strengthening co-operation and collaboration with the South African Police Services and related organisations in high-risk areas. A further 210 fencing projects and 1 356 water and sanitation projects have been prioritised for school readiness for 2018.

Gina said the Committee noted that a sizable proportion of learners for grade 1 and grade 8 across the five provinces have not yet been placed in schools for 2018.

“We noted the reason that schools of choice are receiving far more applications than they can accommodate. We are concerned that parents are refusing to accept that one school cannot place all applicants and that alternative schools should be considered. We urge parents and guardians to hastily choose alternative schools, as we do not want a situation where learners are not placed by the start of the new school year.” said Gina.

The Committee also received the assurance that more than 28 million volume 1 and Grade R workbooks for 2018 have been printed and delivered to 23 565 school countrywide for Grade R to Grade 9 learners.

The printing of volume 2, which is required in the second part of the year, has already been completed and delivery should be completed by the end of November 2017.

Regarding the incremental implementation of the South African Sign Language Curriculum and Assessment Policy, the Committee heard that 11 of the 17 schools for the deaf that offer Grade 12 will be writing the first National Senior Certificate examinations in 2018.

“We welcome this step. However, we urge the Department to ensure that provinces move with speed to ensure complete readiness among all relevant schools,” said Gina.

The Committee further heard that 494 schools were damaged by storms in September and October 2017 in KwaZulu-Natal and an estimated amount of R21 million is required to rehabilitate those schools.

The Department of Public Works will do further assessments and urgent repairs to these schools.

Mobile classrooms have been provided to the affected schools in the meantime.

The Committee indicated that it will continue to monitor the implementation of all the Department’s projects and programmes.

 

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