The Minister of Basic Education has responded to the concern about safety in schools by talking about the steps the department will take to provide support to schools to ensure that schools are safe spaces for learners and teachers.
Here are the steps the Department will take to ensure school safety:
National School Safety Framework
The National School Safety Framework (NSSF) enables schools to create ways of reporting incidents, work together with external groups such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Social Development, and non-profit organizations. Additionally, the NSSF assists in creating school safety policies and plans to deal with safety issues.
The Department has trained schools on the implementation of the National School Safety Framework (NSSF). The training is accredited by the South African Council of Educators and it is granted 15 CPD points.
Monitoring of School Safety, Sport and Enrichment, Social Cohesion Programmes
The Department will monitor the School Safety, Sport and Enrichment, and Social Cohesion Programme in 75 districts by conducting yearly evaluations.
The main objective of these evaluations is to assess how well the districts have implemented school safety programmes and provide the necessary assistance to improve their implementation. As of now, in the 2022-23 year, monitoring has been carried out in 72 districts.
Protocol to Deal with Corporal Punishment
The department has published a protocol that will give school instruction on how to deal with incidences of corporal punishment.
The protocol contains the following:
- The steps to be taken by provincial, district, circuit and school SMT in reporting the incidents of corporal punishment in schools.
- The complaints procedures are outlined and the measures to be taken at every level of the system are explicit and include the labour relations processes in response to perpetrators of corporal punishment as well as sexual abuse and harassment.
- In line with the NSSF the Protocol further supports schools in ensuring safe and supportive learning environments that use protective behaviour, positive discipline, restorative justice and positive behaviour intervention support systems.
Management and Reporting of Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Schools Protocol
The Department published a Protocol on the Management and Reporting of Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Schools, highlighting the illegality of sexual harassment and abuse committed against children in schools, and providing Provinces, Districts and schools guidance on how to deal with issues of sexual harassment and abuse in schools.
The protocol contains the following:
- The various key legislation that protects children against sexual harassment and abuse, which include the Employment of Educators Act, 76 of 1998, the South African Council for Educators Act 31 of 2000, the Children’s Act of 2005 and Criminal law (sexual offences and related matters) amendment act, 2007 (act 32 of 2007)
- The steps to be taken by provincial, district, circuit and school SMT in reporting the incidents of sexual abuse and harassment in schools
- The key stakeholders that schools are required to work with in dealing with cases of sexual harassment and abuse in schools
Partnership Protocol between the Department of Basic Education and SAPS
The Protocol has made it possible for every school to be connected with their nearby police stations, which allows the South African Police Service (SAPS) to conduct searches and confiscate illegal items within schools. Furthermore, SAPS can raise awareness about criminal activities and educate students on how to avoid them within the school premises.
Inter-Departmental Campaign on the prevention of Violence, Bullying, Corporal Punishment, Gender-Based Violence, Learner Pregnancy, Drugs and Substance Abuse
The Campaign, led by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education and supported by other Deputy Ministers from partner Departments, aims to promote awareness about various issues such as preventing bullying, corporal punishment, gender-based violence, teenage pregnancy, and drug and substance abuse in schools.
The Campaign primarily focuses on high-crime and high-violence areas known as hot spots. It involves a series of events that educate students on crucial topics related to preventing violence. These events are designed to gradually lead students through the most important content areas related to violence prevention.
Code of Conducts and Policies
The code of conduct includes policies to prevent bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, which help to establish secure and supportive learning environments.
These codes of conduct are consistent with South Africa's Constitution and child-protection laws. They were shared with and approved by all school stakeholders, including Senior Management Teams, School Governing Bodies, and Learner Representative Councils.
Disaster Risk Assessment Tool
In collaboration with SANTAM, the department has developed a disaster risk management tool. This tool assists schools in recognizing potential disaster risk challenges and coming up with solutions to overcome these challenges.