On Friday, education rights group Equal Education (EE) Western Cape will mobilise hundreds of activists for a mass march calling for police to improve safety at schools and in communities. The organisation has been consistently campaigning for equitable police resources to be deployed in crime and gang infested communities, but believes national government is not heeding this call. Following this week’s national crime statistics, which reveals that Cape Town is the murder capital of South Africa, Equal Education is calling for a serious approach to talking crime on the Cape Flats.
Learners, teachers, parents, and community members will gather together at 3pm in Keizersgracht Street and march together toward Parliament to hand over a memorandum to representatives from provincial and national government. Some of the NGO’s involved are Social Justice Coalition, Nyanga Community Policing Forum (CPF), National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) and Unite Behind.
“We share a common interest in achieving safe schools for all learners, teachers, and all other school employees, as well as safe communities for all. Through our joint action we hope to pressure provincial and national government departments to work together to address the roots of this crisis,” said EE Western Cape deputy head, Noncedo Madubedube.
“We want to put a stop to these departments passing the buck and blaming one another endlessly while our people live and work in fear, and children continue die in our schools. Inadequate resourcing, deepening spatial apartheid, and a lack of interdepartmental coordination in keeping our schools and communities safe cannot be tolerated anymore.”
Last week, EE members from Fezeka Secondary School and ID Mkhize Secondary School marched to the Gugulethu Police Station to demand police visibility around their school – as the first in a series of actions to demand safe communities and schools.
Last year, Equal Education’s social audit of 244 Western Cape schools revealed that learners and teachers in the province suffer and witnesses serious crime and violence on a daily basis in school, and on the way to and from school. Its findings show that girl learners and LGBTIQ learners suffer disproportionately. These conditions, and the emotional and psychological stress they cause, impact teaching and learning profoundly.
“Teachers, principals, and other staff feel demoralised, abandoned, and exploited by their employers. Systemic failures in funding, policy, and interdepartmental coordination at provincial and national level to address school safety issues result in the violation of learners’ rights to education, safety, and dignity, and of teachers’ and principals’ rights to a safe working environment,” said Madubedube.
“Quality teaching and learning cannot occur when learners are traumatised, and educators are expected to teach while also acting as detectives, police officers, security guards, and counselors, with little to no support from the departments collectively responsible for school safety. Equality in education will never be achieved when the schools that serve working class communities lack basic infrastructure such as fencing and alarms, and when police resources remain concentrated in Constantia and Camps Bay.” VOC