South Africa is dubbed as one of the most dangerous places for a child to grow up in. As South Africans we should hang our collective heads in shame for the unsafe conditions confronting our children on a daily basis. It is of grave concern to NAPTOSA members that the plight of children in our country is so neglected. Schools are a safe haven for many children in our country. It is the only place they can escape from abuse, neglect and hunger. And it is here that educators not only provide our children with quality education, often under the most dire of circumstances, but have to comfort the emotional and psychological abuses thrust on these young minds and bodies every day.
Simply put Honourable Minister, our children are not safe, even in our schools. And it is with dismay that we note the Western Cape Provincial Education Department’s attempt to shift the responsibility of protecting the safety of our children in schools to the institutions themselves. How must schools add this burden to their already strained budgets? No. NAPTOSA does not accept the buck being passed to our schools.
It is unthinkable that although South Africa has the best possible legislation dedicated to ensuring the protection of children, the reign of criminality on the most vulnerable is rampant in our country. Gangsterism and threats, in communities and schools, continue to go unchecked. Minister, the time has come to intervene!
It is tragic for a cabinet colleague of yours to spend millions of rands on the safety of her own children, while millions of our country’s children remain unsafe every day. The lack of safe, organised school transport condemns thousands of children to walk to school. The hazards these children are confronted with are plentiful. Not only do they have to fear for their lives from possible abduction for a range of nefarious motives such as human trafficking, “muti-killings”, and just human depravity; but drivers of trucks, taxis and cars often kill these children without ever being brought to book for their robbing the country of a life. The weather conditions notwithstanding, the distances our children have to trudge every day means that they arrive at school exhausted and late. When, Minister? When will there be safe national scholar transport for the safety and protection of our children? This is a necessity and not an option. We need action now!
NAPTOSA notices the number of mud schools that have been replaced by bricks and solid structures, and we congratulate you on your drive to ensure safer buildings in which our children may learn. But this is not enough! There are still far too many schools in South Africa that are built with unsafe materials. Furthermore, how can we build walls for classrooms but not provide safe and proper ablutions facilities? How many of our country’s children have to die, or fall ill in these sub-humane facilities before anything is done about their safety?
And whilst our schools are the safest places for our children, danger lurks within the very walls where they seek solace. The reported cases of predators and learner- on-learner sexual assaults in our schools grow by the week. This cannot be allowed to continue! You need to take decisive and swift action in dealing with these cases.
NAPTOSA, while highlighting the need for greater protection for our children, wishes to acknowledge the legion of teachers, parents, police and carers who daily shield, protect and nurture our children.
Lastly, Minister, NAPTOSA commends your efforts to alleviate poverty through feeding schemes in our schools. However, have you considered the fast approaching three-week long winter holiday on our doorstep? What measures have been put in place to ensure the children who are so reliant on the nutrition received at school are cared for during the holiday time? What provisions exist for the continued nurturing of vital brain development that can only grow through continued sustenance?
NAPTOSA recommits its members to providing a safer place for our children in South Africa’s educational institutions. We continue to push forward with our aim to improve the life chances of every child.
It is time something meaningful; something substantial is done to address NAPTOSA’s, and indeed the entire country’s, concerns regarding the safety and protection of our children.
From the thousands of NAPTOSA educators.
Enquiries: NAPTOSA President: Nkosipendule Ntantala (072 198 0599)
NAPTOSA Executive Director: Basil Manuel (079 508 6228)