Making Schools Safe and Drug-Free Zones
In line with this administration's tough stance against violence in our schools, Western Cape Minister for Education Donald Grant today visited Glendale Secondary in Mitchell's Plain to conduct an inspection of the use of hand held metal detectors at the school.
"We are determined to make our schools 'dangerous object and drug free zones' and the use of metal detectors forms part of the department's strategy to improve safety measures at our schools," said Grant.
"At Glendale, random searches of learners are conducted everyday, and are a non-intrusive way of making sure no weapons are brought onto the school premises. It also acts as a deterrent to learners who might consider bringing a weapon to school."
This morning, Grant inspected two safety officers giving random searches to both male and female learners as they entered the school premises and asked learners how they felt about the searches.
"Each learner I asked said they did not mind being searched as it made them 'feel safe' at school," he said.
"In communities plagued with gangsterism and violence, it is essential that learners feel safe in order to learn. These metal detectors contribute to this sense of safety and security."
Mr Achmat Chotia, principal of Glendale Secondary, said that the metal detectors made their job easier.
"Before, we could not search all the learners at the gate. It was simply inappropriate to frisk learners when they came into the school. Therefore, we could only search learners if we had reasonable suspicion. Now, we can use the detectors everyday as part of our access control," he said.
"Even though we rarely find a weapon, it is important to keep the searches going, as a constant reminder that this is a 'weapon free zone'."
Grant said that if there was a possible indication of contraband on a learner, the person conducting the scan will then ask the learner to declare the object that may have set off the alarm.
"They will then inform the individual that further searching is required; and then will inform the school principal or school safety officer who will witness the rest of the inspection."
Mr Chotia said that if a dangerous weapon is found on a learner, he or she will be temporarily suspended, their parents contacted, and a disciplinary hearing will then take place.
"We will then provide counseling for that learner."
Grant added that although the metal detectors had contributed to the decrease in violence at the school, it was not the only contributing factor.
"Behavioural and structural interventions are also necessary. Many of our learners think that violence can resolve conflict. However, through conflict resolution and behaviour modification courses we can teach them that violence is not the answer," he said.
"Ultimately we need a balance between crime control and crime prevention. While prevention is better then a cure, in light of the current state of violence in our schools, the use of metal detectors is needed, together with other existing safety measures. We are committed to ensuring that our schools are safe for all who use them."
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377