Minister Schäfer concerned about the increase in burglary vandalism
Statement by Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education
Despite increased security measures, wherever possible, each school holiday, a small number of schools fall victim to incidents of burglary and vandalism.
In order to protect our schools, as far as possible, from burglary and vandalism, the Western Cape Education Department's (WCED’s) Safe Schools directorate increased security at identified high risk schools over the holiday period.
During the April 2015 holiday period, 412 schools received additional security, 56 received 24 hour security and 356 schools received 12 hour evening security. Despite these security measures, schools reported a total of 16 incidents of burglary and vandalism.
Schools in the Metro Central, Metro North and Cape Winelands Districts reported three incidents while the Eden and Karoo Education District reported two incidents.
I was horrified to hear that the hardest hit school was in the Metro South district, with a single school being hit 5 times.
The school had been assigned a 24 hour security guard for the holiday period, but on 4 of the 5 occasions, the security guard was attacked, beaten up and robbed of his belongings. The perpetrators also broke into the school while the Principal was on the school premises.
This just goes to show that even having security guards does not act as deterrence to these vandals.
In most cases, perpetrators broke into the schools ablutions, stealing copper piping and vandalising the toilets and basins.
Damage to classrooms included theft of and damage to light fittings, broken windows and stolen sporting equipment.
A school is a community asset. Everyone should help protect schools as it is fundamental to the future of our children.
Just before the end of the 1st term, perpetrators broke into Cedar Park Primary school and burgled and set fire to the schools admin block destroying the admin block and the teachers and learners ablutions.
The community was alerted to the intrusion and a community member gave chase managing to retrieve some of the schools valuable assets. The community member was also able to provide SAPS with an identikit of the perpetrator. The WCED would like to see other school communities take an active part in the safety and security of their schools. Our safest schools are normally those in communities that support these schools, for example, via on-going surveillance and volunteer work at these schools.
It appears that burglary and vandalism in our schools is a problem that we are experiencing across the country.
Our Safe Schools Directorate is very active in mobilising communities to look after schools, in conjunction with the police and community-based organisations.
The co-operation of the community is essential in order to combat vandalism and to create a safe school environment that promotes teaching and learning. We urge community members to be extra vigilant throughout the year and to immediately report any suspicious behaviour or activities that occur within the vicinity of their schools to report this immediately.
In addition to financial costs, the social and other costs of vandalism include demoralising staff and learners at schools, degrading of the teaching and learning environment and facilities, stress and increased safety concerns.
It also takes officials and educators off tasks as school governors, principals, teachers and officials have to spend time and effort dealing with the issue. They have to spend time dealing with law enforcement agencies, security issues and organising repairs.
Every hour spent dealing with vandalism represents time taken away from supporting learners in working through the curriculum.
The cost of these damages is still being determined.
(Please note: The WCED does not identify the names of schools that have been affected by burglary and vandalism. In many cases, the damages caused by the perpetrators can result in a security threat or breach. Therefore, it is our policy to not announce the names).