25 October 2019
Today Friday 25 October, 2 000 Equal Education (EE) Western Cape members will march to the Western Cape Legislature to demand #SafeSchools – handing over specific demands directed at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Western Cape Department of Community Safety.
Equalisers are calling on the WCED and the SAPS to provide the support, resources and capacity necessary to ensure #SafeSchools and safe communities for all. This requires interdepartmental efforts that are geared towards improving school safety to be transparent and to allow for engagement with civil society. It also requires appropriately trained police officers and the equitable distribution of #PoliceResources in the Western Cape.
Equalisers (learner members of EE), parents, community members and our partner organisations will gather at 2pm in Keizersgracht Street in the Cape Town CBD (opposite the CPUT Cape Town campus) and march together toward the Western Cape Provincial Legislature to hand over a memorandum to representatives from the WCED, the SAPS and Department of Community Safety.
To understand the nature and complexity of school violence, EE Western Cape members undertook a social audit in 2015 that revealed worrying systemic safety challenges requiring structural solutions. While the provincial government has implemented interventions in response to school violence, the everyday experience of Equalisers is that the challenges highlighted in our social audit continue to persist. Despite this, the WCED has bizarrely failed to include school safety as a standalone item in its 10 priorities announced to Cabinet – once again dismissing the lack of safety in schools in predominantly black and working class areas.
The WCED has premised its primary safety interventions on the assumption that schools have established functional safety committees, and have developed thorough safety plans. However, through ongoing engagement with schools across the province, there is no indication that the WCED is providing adequate support and training to ensure that schools are capacitated to do so.
The legally binding deadline stipulated by the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure – 29 November 2020 – is fast approaching. By this date, all schools must be equipped with perimeter security including fencing, burglar proofing and security systems. The WCED has addressed fencing in its strategy to eliminate school infrastructure backlogs but has been silent on burglar proofing, providing security guards, and the installation of alarm systems – all of which are crucial for a safe learning and teaching environment.
Equal Education makes the following demands of the WCED:
- We note that the WCED did not include school safety as a standalone item in the 10 priorities it recently presented to Cabinet. The WCED must immediately review its announced 10 priorities and include school safety as a standalone item.
- The WCED must make the details of its expenditure on school safety interventions (such as the Safe Schools Programme) publicly available and must ensure that budget allocations reflect its public commitment to prioritise school safety.
- The WCED must ensure that every school has established a school safety committee by the start of the 2020 academic year.
- The WCED must provide adequate support and training to school safety committees and ensure that they are functional. The WCED must, within the next six months, produce a clear plan on how it will monitor and support schools in ensuring that the establishment of school safety committees and the drafting of school safety plans are not merely done for compliance, but meaningfully contribute towards creating safer schools.
- The WCED must comply with the November 2020 legally binding deadline of the Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure, by when all schools must be equipped with perimeter security including fencing, burglar proofing and security systems. The WCED must respond in writing indicating that they will meet this deadline before 29 November 2019.
- The WCED must work closely with the Department of Social Development to ensure that every school is allocated at least one professionally qualified staff member that can provide preventive and proactive psychosocial support to learners, such as a social worker, counsellor or psychologist.
- Inter-departmental committees leading government’s response to school violence, must be transparent and allow for engagement with movements such as EE. In particular, the WCED must engage other stakeholders to ensure that the School Safety Subcommittee of the Provincial Joints Committee, which includes officials from provincial departments of Education, Social Development, and Community Safety, makes publicly available information on its composition and meeting agendas and that it creates avenues for the public to engage with and make submissions to the committee.
Equal Education makes the following demands of the SAPS:
- The South African Police Service (SAPS) must take proactive steps to ensure that there is a SAPS representative on every school safety committee and that they actively engage with these committees. This will ensure that SAPS improves its relationship with all schools.
- The Collaborative Protocol between the DBE and SAPS must be amended to explicitly note and require that all police officers who interact with schools, receive specialised training in dealing with school violence.
- SAPS must immediately implement the recommendations of the Commision of Inquiry into Allegations of Police Inefficiency and a Breakdown in Relations between SAPS and the Community of Khayelitsha and ensure that there is a fair and equitable allocation and distribution of police resources in all Western Cape communities.
Date: Friday 25 October 2019
Place: Western Cape Provincial Legislature, 7 Wale Street, Cape Town
To arrange a media interview:
Jay-Dee Cyster (EE Communications Officer) firstname.lastname@example.org 082 924 1352