No Magic Wand To End School Violence – Basic Education Minister

Riyaz A. Patel

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says there’s no magic wand to end violence in schools.

Presenting her department’s her annual performance plan in Parliament, Motshekga said although all parties are aware of violence in schools it’s important “not to militarise schools.”

There is been an upsurge in school violence in recent weeks, with both learners and teachers falling victim.

Motshekga, while acknowledging that the violence in some schools was out of control, shifted responsibility of security in schools to provincial departments.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said school safety is a priority for his office during his SOPA speech.

“We don’t run schools, provinces run schools. So, if there are issues like security, those are done by provinces. And different schools in different provinces have got different needs and that’s why the strategy will be varied,” she said.

Committee Chairperson, Bongiwe Mbingo-Gigaba, said parliament will assist all role-players to ensure that schools are places of safety where education can take place without fear of death or injury.

“We agree that this requires a multi-sectoral approach and plan. Violence occurs in our communities and spills over into schools. This is a societal issues and must be addressed by us collectively to ensure a better and brighter future for all learners,” Mbingo-Gigaba said.

In terms of the budget, the committee heard that although it receives a budget of more than R24.5 billion, only around R6 billion remains with the National Department, with the bulk being transferred to the respective provincial departments of education.

Motshekga said her department would continue to work with police to make schools safer, adding that government will not turn places of learning into military zones.

“We don’t want to militarise schools but we also want to protect teachers. So, what is the balance? Because we can’t allow guns [in schools], they are gun-free places.”

The committee commended the department for its National Reading Plan for primary schools to be implemented by the end of this year.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction in order to ensure that our learners read with understanding and comprehension. We will monitor this target and plan closely,” Mbingo-Gigaba said.

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