By Anees Teladia
With the current crime rate and sense of lawlessness in the Western Cape, safety and security at schools has come under the spotlight. Many children in crime-ridden areas plagued by gangs in the Western Cape do not feel safe attending school, a place that should be a nurturing and learning environment. Cases of sexual violence, learner-on-learner fights, attacks on teachers, drug abuse, gangsterism and corporal punishment have highlighted the need for increased government efforts to combat violence in schools.
This week, various education stakeholders were brought together for an education conference hosted by the Western Cape Education Department, where crime was to be addressed as an area of concern. Speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat, the Director of Communication (DOC) of the Western Cape Education Department, Bronagh Hammond said various international guests spoke at the conference and shared ideas pertaining to education and the experiences of teachers abroad.
However, the issue of crime in our provincial schools was left unaddressed by the director when providing feedback on air.
Some of the issues facing learners and parents were spoken of in a very generalised way.
Hammond did, however, offer insight into ideas of how to create opportunities for learners within schools and how schools can be harnessed and aligned with the changing job market and economic structures.
“South Africa is doing quite well, the Western Cape is doing quite well, but we have a long way to go.”
“We have the drive and the vision. We know what we need to achieve but it doesn’t just involve the education department. It involves everyone,” said Hammond.
“We need to make schools dynamic bases of learning. We need to make learning fun.”
It was also mentioned that a key area of focus for the conference was how to equip learners for the job market once they leave school.
However, the issue of safety in these schools and the way the conference addressed this vital issue, was still neglected.
“The big issue is we need to listen to our youth – we don’t listen to them enough,” said Hammond.
Despite crime being a pressing topic in the Western Cape, the issue was not really addressed in the interview by Hammond. However, there does seem to be a positive prognosis for the transformation of the education system.