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27 Jun

Building Blocks for Safer Schools

Added by : Carol Scheepers

We need to make creating a safer learning and teaching environment for our teachers and their learners a priority in education. Children cannot learn if they feel scared and insecure.

So in every safe school's programme, there are two questions that need to be considered:

  1. What is it that we envisage as a safe school?
  2. Where do we start and how do we bring about change?

The GM South Africa Foundation’s School Safety Programme was developed in response to these two questions. The purpose of the programme is to develop resources and training sessions to provide support and guidance to schools in dealing with this critical area.

In the National Schools Safety Framework document, Angie Motshekga, the Minister of Basic Education, states the following in her foreword:

"Education is one of the most important building blocks on which an equitable, inclusive and developmental society is built…”

This statement confirms that the safety of our teachers, learners and school community is a precondition for quality teaching and learning – the core business in schools.

In 2017, the GMSAF School Safety programme was launched based on FOUR building blocks. These building blocks are the principles on which the Hlayiseka Project is based (A Whole School Approach – Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention) and should remain at the centre of our focus if we are serious about safer schools. We must simply...

Currently, we have 18 schools on board. Our participating teachers have shown to be true champions by embracing the programme presented and committing to ‘doing whatever it takes’ to make a difference back at school.

This year our workshops and mentoring sessions have been well attended and teachers seem to have a better understanding their roles and responsibilities in managing school safety.

These responsibilities include:

Planning and feedback are key to bringing about change and ‘open discussions’ in our workshops provide a wonderful opportunity for teachers to share their good practices and strategies for promoting safety and positive discipline in their schools. From these feedback sessions, we have identified two areas of concern:

  1. How and when do teachers find time to develop a whole school approach to safety and security?
  2. How can teachers effectively initiate, maintain and manage discipline in our classrooms and schools?

There is, therefore, no room for compromise or apathy when it comes to commitment to school safety. We must do whatever it takes until every community, teacher and every child feels safer - where they teach or learn, work or play.

There are no easy answers to these two issues. However, we tried to address components of the concerns identified by drawing attention to the aims and curriculum content of two school subjects: Life Skills and Life Orientation. These subjects in primary and high school have sections dealing with safety awareness in schools. We now realise that these subjects need to be targeted for achieving our safety objectives.

Kofi Annan captures the vision of our School Safety programme, of why we care, " There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children, There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected and that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.”

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