School safety back in the spotlight after another school stabbing

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JOHANNESBURG, June 4 – Education activist Hendrick Makaneta has called on the government to urgently prioritize the safety of learners in schools and communities following the murder of a learner who was stabbed by a schoolmate next to Forest High School in Turffontein.

“We welcome the arrest of a pupil after the incident. The government must take drastic steps to ensure that all learners are safe at all times,” Makaneta said.

“The department should ensure that teachers are taken through intensive workshops that can help them to uphold the duty of care. Teachers should know that in the absence of parents of learners at the school level, they are automatically parents.”

On Monday, a 20-year-old grade 11 male learner stabbed three fellow learners, an 18-year-old grade 8 learner (male) who died on the scene, while the other two male learners, aged 18 and 15, were rushed to a local hospital after sustaining injuries. The 20-year-old was later arrested.

Makaneta said the Department of Education had to ensure that all schools observed the duty of care starting in the morning when learners arrived at school.

“Teachers should be visible at the school gates; they should also be visible during a break at the school grounds. Male teachers should be visible at boys’ toilets and female teachers should not leave girls toilets unattended.”

The activist said that cameras should be installed in all the schools in order to deter people from engaging in unlawful acts within the school environment.

“To this effect, we will be asking for a meeting with President Ramaphosa to further engage and find solutions. No child should feel unsafe in the school premises. We must be ready to spend more resources on the safety of our learners. If we could provide free higher education for students, there is no reason why we should not keep our learners safe.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) Education MEC Khume Ramulifho said school safety had to be prioritized and the GDE needed to liaise with the Department of Community Safety to ensure that there were vetted school patrollers at every school to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers.

Earlier this year a pupil at Mondeor High School was stabbed to death while on his way to school.

“The violence taking place at the province’s and country’s schools calls for outcomes-based action. We had previously called for a provincial inquiry into school safety and this was rejected. How many more young lives must be lost before this matter is taken seriously?,” Ramulifho said.

“Schools need to be a safe haven, where there is a conducive environment for teaching and learning.”

– African News Agency (ANA)