Pupils march for safer schools

Pupils, teachers and supporters gathered outside Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) last week for Equal Educations march.

Why should resources in Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain schools be any different from those in Camps Bay?

This was one of the questions asked as thousands of pupils marched in Cape Town last week, demanding safer schools.

The march, which was organised by Equal Education (EE), was supported by various unions, community groups as well as activist organisation Unite Behind.

The march was organised by EE, who handed over a list of demands to government officials outside Parliament.

In a letter to the United Democratic Front (UDF), calling for support for the march, Nishal Robb, head of EE in the Western Cape, stated their reasons for marching.

“Quality teaching and learning cannot occur when pupils are traumatised, and educators are expected to teach while acting as detectives, police officers, security guards, and counsellors all at the same time, with little to no support from the departments collectively responsible for school safety. “Equality in education will never be achieved when the schools that serve working class communities lack basic infrastructure such as fencing and alarms, and when police resources remain concentrated in Constantia and Camps Bay. We are determined to see these conditions change.”

The letter continued: “Through our joint action we hope to pressure provincial and national government departments to work together to address the roots of this crisis instead of continuing to pass the buck and blame one another endlessly while our people live and work in fear and children continue to die in our schools.

“Inadequate resourcing, deepening spatial apartheid, and a lack of interdepartmental co-ordination in keeping our schools and communities safe cannot be tolerated anymore.”

Mr Robb said pupils had mobilised from various areas including Mitchell’s Plain Nyanga, Gugulethu, Manenberg, Elsies River, Langa, Bonteheuwel and Salt River. He called on all spheres of government as well as the South African Police Service to work together to make sure that schools were safe.

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) said they supported the march and called on leaders to make clear, public statements on where they stood on improving safety on school premises.

Mandisa Dyanti of the Social Justice Coalition, said: “We are not here because we like to disrupt the quietness of the city. We are here because disruption is the order of the day in the townships. We are here because crime is the order of the day in the townships. We are here to tell the people that we voted for that they need to do their job.”

EE handed over their memorandum to government representatives on the day.