MEC's Explore a Co-ordinated Response to School Safety
MEC Grant was visiting two schools that are part of the Western Cape Education Departments Safe Schools project. Joining him were the MEC for Community Safety Lennit Max and the MEC for Social Development Dr. Ivan Meyer.
The reason for the visits today is to establish how the three departments can collectively improve on the existing safety infrastructure and systems in these schools, and how to co-ordinate efforts to ensure that all stakeholders, including parents, teachers and learners, are involved in keeping schools and communities safe, said MEC Grant.
The MECs heard how Levana Primary in Lavender Hill had turned itself from a gangster-ridden war zone into a safe haven for all learners. The school has not experienced any break-ins this year and only one last year.
This school is a shining example of best practice. With pro-active action and teamwork, the leadership of this school, together with Safe Schools, has turned Levana primary around,
Both the attitudes and behaviour of learners, and the schools security infrastructure, had been targeted for improvement. Programmes were set up to combat negative behaviour, CCTV cameras and alarms were installed and a Magic Room was created for aggressive and emotional learners to engage in therapy and find support.
The second school, Arcadia Secondary, proved to be a different story. The school, despite security interventions, is still experiencing high levels of crime.
Arcadia Secondary has already had a number of break-ins this year. The most recent was in the July holidays. Heavy machinery and CCTV cameras were stolen, damage was done to the ceiling, and windows were broken, at an estimated cost of R50 000. said Grant.
The MEC said that the total estimated cost of school vandalism and theft, in the province, during the July school holidays is estimated to be around R550 000.
This July we have had 33 reported cases. This is a marked improvement from 2008, when 43 incidents of vandalism and burglary were reported in the same period.
He said that the reasons for the improvement could include the WCED's measures to safeguard our schools.
Safe Schools put in place holiday security patrols at 109 high risk schools. We believe that the presence of people on the school grounds have acted as a deterrent to criminals, he said.
Nariman Khan, from the WCEDs Safe Schools Division, said that schools had also taken part in discussions with armed response companies and the SAPS sector commanders, to do extra, random patrols around their schools.
MEC Grant said that although the statistics had shown an improvement, one incident was one incident too many.
Five of the schools targeted this holiday, including Arcadia, are receiving support from our Safe Schools division. Despite this, criminals are still gaining access.
MEC Grant said that his department would be communicating with all 109 safe schools to determine how to co-ordinate the effort of each department in keeping schools safe.
Once we have analysed this feedback we will create an integrated management plan for all our safe schools. We will then sit down together and determine how we can tackle these needs with the resources at our disposal, he said.
We will ensure that the alarm systems at each school are linked to the nearest SAPS station. An 'adopt a cop' programme will also be implemented. This will encourage a better working relationship between the police and the schools.
MEC Max said that schools should not rely on government alone for their security.
Parents, community members and the school management should take ownership of the conditions in which their children receive an education.