Act now to en­sure chil­dren’s safety

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Open let­ter to the Hon­ourable Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Angie Mot­shekga, on the safety of South Africa’s chil­dren Nkosipen­d­ule Ntan­tala

SOUTH Africa is dubbed 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 teach­ers not only pro­vide the chil­dren with qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, of­ten un­der the most dire of cir­cum­stances, but have to con­front 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 our chil­dren in schools to the in­sti­tu­tions. How must schools add this bur­den to their al­ready strained bud­gets?

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 rand 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 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, 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 notes 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 that are built with un­safe ma­te­ri­als.

Fur­ther­more, how can we build walls for class­rooms but not pro­vide safe and proper ablu­tion 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 while 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-on­learner sex­ual as­saults in our schools grow by the week.

This must not 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.

Min­is­ter, Nap­tosa com­mends your ef­forts to al­le­vi­ate poverty through feed­ing schemes in our schools.

How­ever, have you con­sid­ered the fast-ap­proach­ing three-week win­ter holiday? 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 Nap­tosa pres­i­dent

AC­TION TIME: The writer says Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga should in­ter­vene to en­sure safety of chil­dren in schools.

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